Ulsan.8Some of my best friends have an older son who has been on a Naval ship for the better part of a year. While they rarely know his exact location, he has been closer to areas like Korea and Singapore lately, and I’m always asking for updates. Sometimes they get a call or a message, and while a lot of their questions seem to revolve around whether he’s seen whales and what ship life—and food—is like, I keep reminding them to ask him whether or not the boat has a 3D printer on it or whether he is yet mastering the technology. Because word has it, if you are in the military, this is a technology you may well find yourself using. We report often on the military and their interest in 3D printing from drones being made onboard ships to the recent use of 3D printed components for missiles.

And because 3D printing is so attractive to hobbyists, countless tiny boats and remote-controlled watercraft—even swarms of robot boats—and jet boats have been created using the new and exciting technology. This industry seems to be about outdoing innovations on a daily basis, however, and rumor has it that now one South Korean city may be about to outdo everyone altogether. While this is certainly a developing story and should have quite an impressive outcome should it come to fruition, word is that the industrial city where Hyundai Heavy Industries is based—Ulsan—is poised to start doing some major spending in 3D printing on a large scale with production of ships.

images (6)Ulsan is the seventh largest metropolis in South Korea, boasting over a million citizens, situated in the southeast. It also boasts a booming economy due to so much industry in the area, and is home to an enormous oil refinery owned by SK Energy; and it is, in fact, the second largest refinery in the world. Now, The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) is ready to designate a large portion of the budget to research, development, and manufacturing of 3D printed ships and all of the crucial and peripheral equipment which would be required. Obviously, this is a massive undertaking and will be one that would be quite challenging to keep under wraps. It should also be quite a source of fascination to the city’s population, as the technology is so even on the smallest of scales.

The current mission of MOTIE is indeed not just to further economic growth, but to also provide a foundation that allows it to grow through coming decades in the very crucial area of industry, as well as business, investments, and the energy sector. With the city of Ulsan’s waterway location on a large harbor, shipbuilding is a viable and logical undertaking, and with all of the benefits available via 3D printing should offer productivity, speed, and a better bottom line—on a larger scale than we’ve seen yet.

Ulsan Harbor

Ulsan Harbor

It’s said that around $20 million will be spent within a five-year period, and the project should be underway by next year. Home to Samsung, LG, and the famed Hyundai, Korea is a tech-rich country, and it’s certainly no surprise that they have such big aspirations regarding 3D printing. If they beat everyone else to the punch with 3D printed ships, the rest of the world will be using their innovations as a model, undoubtedly. What do you think of this plan? Discuss in the 3D Printed Ships forum over at 3DPB.com

[Source: Splash24/7]

 

The Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in Ulsan (Photo: Splash24/7)

The Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in Ulsan [Photo: Splash24/7]

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