Case study

3D Printing Large, Complex, Marine Superstructures

11 Apr, 2023

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3D Printing Large, Complex, Marine Superstructures

While industries like aerospace and automotive have been using additive manufacturing technologies for many years, the marine sector has recently picked up the pace of adoption thanks to the benefits provided by Large Format Additive Manufacturing. Companies like yacht and ship-builders are quickly speeding up the introduction of large parts manufactured with technologies like Caracol's Heron AM.

Producing extremely customized, geometrically complex, light, and more sustainable parts with no scale limit and in a short time is critical for marine players, especially targeting the luxury and racing boat segments.

Caracol is working with the most forward-thinking boatbuilders, helping them innovate their manufacturing processes, on several finished-parts applications, such as air grids for yachts. 

From several points of view, air grids are an interesting application for Additive Manufacturing: their designs are complex, not-flat geometrical shapes; and the engineering process in traditional manufacturing still entails hand-made lamination using molds and fiberglass or metal sheet working as laser cutting, bending, machining. These needs can be satisfied by working with a technology like Heron AMTM, which leverages its proprietary software and the robotic arm's 6-axes, to extrude at various angles, also printing suspended surfaces and hollow, light, and intricate geometrical forms at 45°.

Applying Caracol's LFAM system Heron AMTM to this production means having the opportunity to design innovatively shaped structures with light-weight geometries without the need for molds or jigs, which finally leads to overcoming the typical time and cost constraints of the traditional manufacturing technologies while guaranteeing its quality standards.

Additive Manufacturing is also a sustainable solution if considering its environmental impact. As we carry out continuous material testing and qualification, our system Heron AM can print recycled materials. In the case of lateral air grids’ production, recycled polypropylene is mixed with 30% glass fiber. Moreover, the used raw and recycled materials only concern the parts’ production and don’t generate waste. At the same time, the process optimization, combined with the extrusion high rate, leads to up to 50% improved lead time. Finally, the digital design files are saved and can be adapted to future maintenance and spare parts needs. The overall effect for boat builders is a significant cost reduction of up to 70% according to production volumes.

More by Caracol

Caracol offers extreme Additive Manufacturing solutions with no scale limits. The company has developed its own LFAM system: with a patented extrusion head and proprietary algorithms. This system saves costs, reduces lead time, minimizes waste, and can reutilize waste or recycled materials.

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