Naval architect Greg Marshall predicts the technology for 3D printed yachts and superyachts could be available by 2030. Entire superyachts and their interiors could be created by 3D printers, using more efficient materials for stronger and more affordable designs.
Already used across many industries, 3D printing is currently used in the maritime industry on a relatively small scale, but could soon revolutionise and dominate the industry. Next generation 3D printers are due later this year, which will have the ability to print large scale parts.
3D printing’s benefits include fewer parts, less labour, less stock, and less lead time. Furthermore, with the help of enhanced materials such as titanium, 3D printing creates drastically less waste compared to current construction technologies.
During a presentation at the 2017 Superyacht Design Symposium, Marshall said “Additive manufacturing is changing the playing field. In the very near future, we will be using it to build superior yachts that have significant material reductions and much smaller carbon footprints”.
He continued, “Typically in a shipyard, you see about 15 to 20 percent raw material wastage. With 3D printing, it’s around 2 percent, so it’s a huge savings in material, a huge savings in labour.”
The material Marshall predicts will be used is titanium, which, being lighter than steel, will allow for higher boat speeds and more efficient fuel usage. Used in bone replacement implants, titanium does not corrode and is bio-compatible, meaning less maintenance will be required than conventional materials.
The versatile metal can also be used in yacht interiors, and then covered with whatever material the designer desires, such as stonework or wood veneers. Titanium is also particularly appealing in the realm of fire protection, with a melting point 300°C higher than steel.
According to Marshall, in 2020 larger scale printers will increase 3D printings presence in the industry considerably, and within the next five or so years after that the yacht industry will be printing entire six metre yacht tenders in one step.
Further in the future, a complete 45m yachts could be printed in 90 days, compared to the current two to three years build time. Marshall said “We picture by 2030 we’ll probably be fairly close to 3D printing full-scale metal structures on boats and interiors will come after that.”