3D printing has taken to the seas – and lakes, and rivers – before in the form of 3D printed canoes, kayaks and other boats. Earlier this year, a group of companies including chemical company LEHVOSS Group and 3D printing startup OCore began developing plans to 3D print the hull of a competitive sailboat. The hull has now been completed and was recently unveiled during a ceremony at the sailing club Circolo della Vela Sicilia (CVS) in Italy.
After the opening remarks in the ceremony, but prior to the presentation of the boat, OCore and the other project partners explained in detail the technologies that were involved in creating the boat.
“OCore, supported by the project partners, has developed a dedicated technology,” said Daniele Cevola, Managing Director of OCore. “This includes a robot, software and printing technology, including the print head. OCore succeeded in developing a material deposition system that, using the logic of a proprietary algorithm, replicates organic and morphologically complex structures. This provides lightness and resistance to a boat that could not be built in any other way.”
OCore’s technology focuses on high performance composites like plastics reinforced with carbon and glass. The LEHVOSS Group, which has been putting more effort toward developing 3D printing materials recently, created a customized material for the boat. LUVOCOM 3F PAHT CF is a high performance polyamide reinforced with carbon fibers. It offers high stiffness and strength and low weight, and is optimized for 3D printing, allowing high Z-layer strength.
“We are proud to be a partner in this exciting project and happy to be providing support with our material and processing know-how,” said Thomas Collet, Director of Marketing at LEHVOSS.
The sailboat is 6.5 meters long and was designed for racing, particularly the Mini Transat Race which will be taking place in September 2019. The race is no quick jaunt – it will begin in France, make a brief stop in the Canary or Madeira Islands, and will finish in Brazil, 4,000 miles from the starting point. The boat will have plenty of time to practice before then, and it is expected to begin its first sailing tests in early 2019. For such a demanding race, a tough boat is needed, and the Mini 650, as it has been named, is that. 3D printing allowed the craft to be made both lightweight and strong, a combination that will give it a distinct advantage as it sails across the ocean.
3D printing also greatly reduced the time it took to fabricate the boat, as well as making it a more economical project. Not only is the hull 3D printed, but the deck and other functional parts are as well. If the Mini 650 wins the Mini Transat 2019, it will also be a big victory for 3D printing technology.
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