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Yamsailor
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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?
 

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arrgh!
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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.
 

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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.
 

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Asleep at the wheel
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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).
 

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Jim,

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.
 

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Greg,
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.
 

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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.
 

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David,

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.


Jim,

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.
 

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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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I actually know someone who produces 3D printed metal parts as his business. Those commerical machines are hundreds of thousands of dollars. I've seen the machines in action. They take an entire day to make a part the size of your fist. Incredibly cool, but the tech doesn't seem practical on the scale of a boat. It might be your classic, "high tech solution to a low tech problem" Just laying a hull up by hand may not be slower or more expensive per unit.

Also, can the technology create an object with multiple materials? I've only seen one metal or one plastic used. If you wanted a different material on the skin from the core, I'm not sure the printers can do that??
 

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Do you count CNC cutters? (If not, why not?) People have been using them to make plugs for years. Hulls need lots of tensile strength, which is why people make them out of fiberglass (or CF). Additive 3D printing can build things with high compressive strength, but it's hard to get things with sufficient tensile strength.

3D printed parts (such as sintered titanium) are just becoming practical for aerospace, presumably we'll see some entering use on high end race boats before too long.
 

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My eldest is a sterolithographer, has been for a decade or so. He runs a floor full of the massive production ones and does rapid prototyping as well.
The machines he runs are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. These aren't printers - they build the product one layer at a time from the bottom up in a vat of goop (that's how I understand it, but I'm a database guy).
They are no where near big enough to do more than say an engine block.

A yacht? Dream on. Wrong material, and you'd need months of run time.
 

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arrgh!
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The more I think about this idea, the more I wonder. Say someone with a decent, large 3-D printer in St. Croix. I wonder if the time it would take to print and the cost would be less than just ordering and having it mailed... Even if you can assume that the printers had enough of the materials on hand and access to the design to print

 

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Remember the hull is only a portion of the finished build. You still have to install all the systems, run the plumbing, electrical, ect... I am sure the printing would allow for some interesting design advantages however. Like buries conduit, integral fuel lines, that just aren't possible with current manufacturing capabilities.

Long term I think it will happen, but I am sure it will take a while. Current sintering technology allows about 1in^3 an hour to be layer down per machine. This was from a 1mx1m machine, so on a 12m (abt 40') boat with a 3.7m (12') beam you could squeeze in say 50 print heads. At 50 cubic inches/hr, that's 1,200 cubic inches a day, or roughly 120lbs of aluminium hull a day. I have no idea off hand, but let's say a typical 40' hull in aluminium weighs in at 5,500lbs. At 120lbs per day that comes out to about 45 days of printing time.

I am not sure what current construction time would be for just the shell, but I would actually guess that isn't that far off current methods.


Edit: updated hull weight based upon more acurate numbers.
 

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arrgh!
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If things are close to equal, I could see where doing things that couldn't be done with the traditional methods (or traditional as they stand now), it seems 3-D wold have an advantage.

But I have an off topic queston why would you want buried conduit? what if you needed access? It seems to me that could be a barrier
 

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Blue Horizons
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As a holder of a BS in Biology who is going for his masters in bioengineering I can tell you the future is 3D printing without a doubt.
They will print food from cartiredges with 30 year shelf life which will stop loads of starvation and famine. They will have industrial sized printers which are towed in 18 wheelers and brought to job sites toconstruct buildings. 3d printers will create microscopic bots which are injected to your blood stream and provide real time information on your hdl, ldl, blood and hormone levels ect. These bots will also be able to remove plaque from arteries or signal that a person is about to have a stroke or heart attack ect.
3d printing will result in arms and munitions factories underground including by terrorist.
printing will result in sailboat manurfacturing as well as cars, houses, objects, foods, literally the possibilities are endless.

If any of you have kids I strongly encourage you to have them pursue a science education or engineering education as the fields of bioengineering, protein and gene therapy, 3d printing and manurfacturing will have incredible oppertunities.
great thread!
 

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we have one here. it can do a 3' cube part. takes forever and is very cost prohibitive. it is fun to do though. we had a very small scale one in our cubes for a bit, again fun to play with but after a while it becomes dull. they are useful for one off parts or interference checks. to actually try to print parts off faster or more economically than machining and fab, may be a very very long way off.
 
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