When astonishing case studies emerge in the additive manufacturing (AM) sector, it’s become a habit of mine to approach them with caution. After all, there are so many dubious stories and applications that more evidence is needed before they can be taken at face value. For that reason, I was hesitant about 3D printed autonomous boats. However, Al Seer Marine, which commissioned “the world’s largest” robotic arm 3D printer from CEAD, may very well be on track to deliver on the concept after winning the Guinness World Records title for the Largest 3D Printed Boat.
Dubbing it the “world’s first” 3D printed water taxi, Al Seer Marine and Abu Dhabi Maritime, part of AD Ports Group (ADX:ADPORTS) unveiled the craft 3D printed from recycled PIPG (30% glass fiber and UV stabilizer). Measuring 11.98 meters in length and 3.594 meters in width, the 3D printed taxi is able to fit 29 passengers, including crew, with additional space for bicycles and wheelchairs. The boat is expected to hit Abu Dhabi’s water taxi network in late 2024. The previous title of “World’s Largest 3D Printed Boat” went to the University of Maine, which used an Ingersoll system to fabricate the craft.
“This record-breaking accomplishment is a testament to our unwavering dedication to sustainable practices and pioneering engineering,” proudly stated Guy Neivens, CEO of Al Seer Marine. “Beyond achieving a The Guinness World Record, this endeavor serves as a clarion call to the industry, urging the adoption of greener technologies. We take immense pride in crafting this extraordinary water taxi within our very own facility, a beacon of our commitment to a sustainable future.”
Capt Saif Al Mheiri, Managing Director at Abu Dhabi Maritime, contributed, “Our partnership has given birth to something truly extraordinary. This 3D printed water taxi represents a significant leap forward in sustainable maritime transportation and a unique experience for our customers.”
Al Seer Marine, located in Abu Dhabi, specializes in a range of maritime services including boat construction, yacht management, refits, and the production of unmanned sea drones. This public enterprise boasts a workforce exceeding 1200 individuals. It operates under the umbrella of the International Holding Company, a notable entity that, as detailed in a Financial Times report, rapidly rose from relative anonymity to achieve a valuation of $240 billion.
The International Holding Company is presided over by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan. In addition to his role at the helm of this company, Sheikh Tahnoon holds significant positions within Abu Dhabi’s ruling family as a full brother of the ruler and also serves as the national security chief of the country.
Managed by Abu Dhabi Maritime, Abu Dhabi’s water taxi network was launched in November 2022 as a means of traversing the city’s waters and access its prime locations. It connects popular tourist destinations and provides ferry services linking islands to the mainland. Its parent company, AD Ports, is the exclusive developer and regulator of ports and related infrastructure in Abu Dhabi.
Al Seer’s previous efforts in 3D printing unmanned surface vessels (USVs) included HYDRA drone boat revealed in February of this year. Weighing 345 kg and five meters long, HYDRA was meant initially for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Drone boats have garnered attention for potential intelligence gathering, particularly in areas like the Persian Gulf where maritime surveillance is seen as increasingly vital.
Because the government and wealth of the United Arab Emirates is so closely linked, it’s possible for the country and the individual emirates to quickly implement large-scale strategies. In the case of Dubai, this has seen significant attention placed on additive construction, while Abu Dhabi is executing this novel transportation network. Thanks to 3D printing, it will be able to deploy 3D printed boats at a rapid pace such that it shouldn’t be entirely surprising if Al Seer doesn’t achieve its lofty goals.
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