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Digital Supply Chains and 3D Printing Come to Alaska via Ivaldi

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Ivaldi Group has entered into an agreement with the Alaska Ocean Cluster to explore how digitized supply chains and on-demand manufacturing could contribute to the revitalization of Alaska’s coastal ocean economy. Alaska Ocean Cluster is a startup accelerator that was founded in 2020, dedicated to promoting innovation in Alaska’s maritime and other ocean-related industries.

Image courtesy of Wilhelmsen

As the organization puts it on its website, “With over 33,000 miles of shoreline, 158 coastal communities, and one of the largest, most sustainable wild-catch fisheries in the world, Alaska is an ideal location to develop, test, and commercialize new ocean technologies.” As such, Ivaldi, which specializes in additive manufacturing (AM) based logistical solutions for the maritime industry, is a perfect recipient of Alaska Ocean Cluster’s funding.

Image courtesy of Ivaldi Group

Ivaldi’s principal investor is the Norwegian company Wilhelmsen, which operates the largest maritime network in the world. Thus far, outside of Singapore, one of the main hubs of global maritime traffic, and one of Wilhelmsen’s primary operating locales, maritime 3D printing has lagged behind other comparable sectors, like aerospace and automotive. However, increasing interest and investment in the technology from the U.S. Navy indicates that maritime could soon enough be an area of significant growth for the 3D printing sector.

Valdez, Alaska. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Alaska has the third-highest number of maritime workers per capital of any U.S. state, and includes the city of Valdez, which is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), one of the world’s largest crude oil pipelines. Considering that SmarTech Analysis projects 3D printing for oil and gas to generate over $1 billion in revenues by 2029 (see “The Market for Additive Manufacturing in the Oil and Gas Sector 2018-2029“), the combination could lead to Alaska becoming a surprising region of growth for AM. This is the case especially given Alaska’s being the U.S.’s most sparsely-populated state, yielding the need to maximize labor out per person, which is an objective AM can certainly make a significant contribution towards.

Moreover, increased incorporation of AM in the maritime industry would inevitably have consequences for AM reverberating far outside this sub-sector. Ivaldi’s business model, for instance, relies on a network of 3D printing service bureaus being in place in the areas where its customers operate. The more the maritime industry adopts AM, the more incentive and momentum there is in the direction hubs of maritime traffic also becoming hubs for AM. The most exciting angle to this is the fact that maritime traffic hubs are of course also the key geographical links in global supply chains, further multiplying the potential for streamlining global commercial traffic, the more that the maritime industry adopts AM.

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