The Green Ship of the Future consortium is dedicated to improving the sustainability of the maritime industry. One of the consortium’s goals is emission-free maritime transport, which it is pursuing using existing energy-efficient technology as well as exploring new technologies. Those technologies involve 3D printing, and the consortium is now embarking on its first 3D printing-related pilot project. The project is exploring the onboard 3D printing of spare parts, rather than carrying extra inventory.

The partners involved in the project represent most of the spare parts supply chain and include:

The project is being financed by the Danish Maritime Fund.

[Image via Create it REAL]

Being able to 3D print parts on board as needed means that launch boats and helicopters aren’t required to deliver spare parts to ships, saving both money and emissions. If ships aren’t required to keep spare parts on board, too, that lightens the load and further reduces emissions. The implementation of 3D printing onboard ships isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds, however.

“3D printing technology is developing rapidly and we believe it is ready for utilization in the maritime industry,” said Sverre Patursson Vange of J. Lauritzen. “However, the harsh environment and the top priority to safety calls for precautions why we are very pleased to have DNV GL, MAN Diesel & Turbo and Create it REAL participating in the project to address these issues.”

The issues of intellectual property protection and safe file transmission are ones that the consortium intends to address, and are doing so with help from Create it REAL. Earlier this year, the Danish company introduced a solution that allowed 3D printers to securely decrypt files, meaning that designers could send their files directly to 3D printers rather than computers and eliminating the need for the person 3D printing the file to ever directly access it.

Create it REAL Marketing and Sales Director Ghislain Gauthier tells 3DPrint.com,  “We believe our approach will boost the 3D printing market as companies will be able to value their 3D files safely even using FDM machines. As the number of materials you can use is also increasing (Carbon, PEEK… filaments/pellets for metal in the future) the number of business applications will explode. As our platform can be adapted on any FDM 3D printer we are looking forward to work with more 3D printer manufacturers to support our customers’ needs.”

The consortium will be placing 3D printers on board ships and addressing any problems as they arise, but those 3D printers will have the Create it REAL platform in place, so no one on the ships will be able to access the source files of the parts they’re printing. The platform also enables 3D printers to print up to five times faster than standard.

“We believe many companies are facing the same problem: how to share my files with my partners or customers while being sure to keep my intellectual property safe,” said Create it REAL CEO Jeremie Pierre Gay. “The business model we are creating thanks to our technology is a bit like listening to music on online platforms. You do not access the mp3s but you can still listen to the music depending on your subscription. We aim to create the same positive environment where end-users will have access to high quality branded content and IP owners keep what they worked for.”

The consortium will deliver 3D printers to different locations, including ships and drilling stations, along with training tools and videos so that each crew can learn the 3D printing process and become self-sufficient in producing the parts they need.

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