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Yamsailor 12-10-2013 11:01 PM

3D Printing of Sailboats
I have been reading the technology to print out a yacht using 3D printing will be here in less that 10 years. I wonder if this will reduce the cost of yachts to the consumer.

Anybody know anything about this new technology?

titustiger27 12-10-2013 11:23 PM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
There was an episode of "Big Bang Theory" in which two characters paid something like $6,000 for a 3-D printer so they could print out plastic action figures of themselves.

To me, it would like seem doing the same to 'print out' a yacht. I can't imagine the cost of the printer to make a 30 foot yacht, but it doesn't really seem like it would be cheaper than the way they make them now...

Especially when you consider the number of 3-D yachts the owner of the printer would likely sell.

from: Power and Sailboat Sales Rebounded in 2012 | Dealer Access : : From Big Rock Sports


- New powerboat sales increased 10 percent to 157,300 in 2012.
- New sailboat sales increased 29.2 percent to 5,945 in 2012.

- Small fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats 26 feet or less in size, continued their upward climb with an 11.3 percent increase in the number of new boats sold. Outboard boats are the most popular type of new powerboat sold, making up approximately 82 percent of the market.

Stumble 12-10-2013 11:27 PM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
I could see it happening, but it will take a while longer than 10 years. I doubt anyone will go into business buying a large printer to print boats, but once you have the equipment it doesn't matter much what you make with it.

My guess is the first boats made this way will be aluminum, or actually titanium. As an outgrowth of metal sintering technology already being used in custom fabrication instead of making molds. But right now the largest machine I know of (not that I follow it closely) is only a few feet a side. But within this size pretty much anything can be made.

They would just have to up the size massively to make it possible.

jimgo 12-10-2013 11:28 PM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
3D printing isn't new; it's at least 20 years old. My engineering school bought a 3D printer when I was a freshman or sophomore. What's new is the ability to do it with machines that cost a few thousand dollars, and in something that can fit on a desk. They are constantly developing new materials to use, too.

One of the big problems with 3D printing is that it takes a long time. The piece has to be built up layer-by-layer, and in many cases those layers are only a few thousandths of an inch thick, at most. Trying to print a 40' boat would take forever. What I CAN see it being used for, though, are models. For example, if Bob Perry wanted to give his clients a chance to "see" what their boat will look like, he could get a desktop printer and print them something at 1:40 or 1:50 scale in a day or two. They could also test the performance in a wind tunnel/water tank if they wanted (though things like weight ratios will probably be off).

titustiger27 12-10-2013 11:40 PM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
What about a smaller version, that is onboard, and used to replace items as they are needed..?

Stumble 12-10-2013 11:49 PM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats

The company I used to work for made titanium parts from 3d CAD drawings. The largest I worked on was a exhaust manifold for a 450hp Diesel engine, I think about 24"x30"x6" but I can't remember the specs to be honest. It took about 12 hours on a high speed large platform sintering machine.

I could easily see a very large machine with multiple laser printing heads working on a large project like a boat, and do it in a reasonable amount of time. I don't think the technology is there yet, and I don't think it will be in the very near future, but I do think it will be coming eventually.

jimgo 12-11-2013 12:04 AM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
I agree that it could be done; it's "just" an engineering problem to scale it up. And it could probably be done with some of the plastic fab machines that are out there today (scaled up, of course). However, the question for me is whether it will actually be cost effective to do so. Even today, you typically see the 3D printers used in one-off production for things like prototypes or custom jewelry. You don't see them used a lot in mass-production environments because there are frequently other ways to manufacture things that give you equivalent results for lower cost (or higher production run output). Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see high-quality 40'+ boats mass produced and available at prices closer to automobiles today. I just think that, if it's going to happen, its on a MUCH longer timeline than 10 years.

davidpm 12-11-2013 12:15 AM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
Maybe a 3D printed mold would be the first step.
Or even before that the 3D printing of molds to make various components like hatches and liners.

I get one of the trade magazines and that is what the fabricators did to get their feet wet is to start with components to learn about vacuum bagging techniques.

Stumble 12-11-2013 12:54 AM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats

I think 6 axis cutting machines are still going to be faster for large parts. For smaller stuff you could do it now. We used to make casting molds with 3D printers all the time, it made the mold turn around time a few hours instead of a couple of weeks.


Agreed. I don't know about time frame, but boats are hardly mass produced. With build times of months for even simple hulls, I don't think it's out of the question. The real question is if boat hulls are high enough value to justify the coat of machine rental.

capt vimes 12-11-2013 04:03 AM

Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
the technology is there, it is just a question of the material used and size...
stonespraying is a technique to build houses with and the proper sized printer for that purpose are also there, or simply have to be set together...
"Endless" house to be built using giant 3D printer

modern carbon sails btw get also sort of printed - on a mold goes a thin sheet, then a robot comes along and "prints" the carbon strands with the proper amount of resin in the right location on it, then the second sheet goes on, backed - finished....

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