METS 2015: 3D Printing has “massive potential” in boat manufacturing

Peter Sander

In his keynote address to a large crowd at the 2015 Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) Breakfast Briefing, Peter Sander, manager of emerging technologies and concepts at Airbus Industries, spoke at length about the “massive potential” for 3D printing to change every manufacturing industry, including recreational boating.

Speaking to a packed house on Tuesday morning at the Amsterdam Rai convention complex, Sander provided several examples of how Airbus Industries has used 3D printing, also known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) technology, to manufacture complex aircraft parts from a variety of plastics and high-strength aluminum alloys.

“We say ‘3D printing’ but it is really successive welding,’” said Sander. “Each successive layer adds to the one before it, allowing you to produce extremely complex parts without having to perform extensive machining or purchase specialized tooling. It also reduces the need to assemble complex components from multiple pieces. You can create compound parts that are stronger and lighter, and you can produce them at much lower cost.”

3D printing was also touted as an inexpensive means of achieving mass customization – producing unique components without incurring expensive tooling and machining expenses. Sander provided a boat cleat as an example, which could be produced in unique versions with different manufacturer logos or model names at the click of a mouse.

NMMA and ICOMIA president Thom Dammrich also praised the potential for 3D printing technology in the boat industry.

“3D printing will bring unprecedented creative freedom, while reducing costs and speeding up production,” said Dammrich. “It allows manufacturers to work on shorter lead times while reducing material costs. It allows for lighter-weight parts, and for a significant reduction in the manufacturing process’ environmental footprint.”

METS runs through Thursday at the Rai conference center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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