NAMIC’s first event of the year drew an overwhelming response from over 250 industry players to its small and intensive exchange covering 3D printing in maritime and energy.
The summit focused on the themes:
- How 3D printing can change the future of maritime and energy sectors, as well as impact global supply chain
- The successful development of the world’s first 3D printed and certified ship propeller
- Standards and certification in 3D printing for the marine offshore and oil & gas sectors
- Singapore SME showcase on their latest AM technologies and solution offerings
Why 3D Printing?
There is an irrevocable shift towards renewable energy and onset of industry 4.0 in Singapore. Every industry will need to take concrete steps to adopt technologies that will improve productivity and transform their businesses. Adopting 3D printing can enhance competitiveness in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital transformation.
3D printing has the advantage of:
- Lower costs. The need to keep inventory is eliminated. Parts can be produced on-demand.
- Lower volume, especially of spare parts.
- Higher efficiency from design to production.
Nakul Malhotra of Wilhelmsen Ships Service, says, “3D printing essentially enables our customers to access a micro-factory, if and when they need it, in their next port of call.”
Vincent Wegener of RAMLAB shows how 3D printing can disrupt the port-related industry, citing the development of the world’s first 3D printed and certified ship propeller as an example.
There’s the constant need for maintenance, overhaul and repair of end-use parts. It is not always cheaper to 3D print an end-use part as compared to injection moulding.
Another problem is the lack of standardized ways to prove manufacturers and regulators that 3D printed products are safe to use. 3D printing is great for prototyping, but creating end-use products will require more stringent quality control processes. There is a need to review and adapt the current certifications and quality control processes for 3D printed end-products.
Big industry players such as Underwriters Lab (UL) and DNV-GL are collaborating with NAMIC to establish better certification processes for 3D printing.
Davide Sher, Senior Analyst of SmarTech Publishing, says, “There is too little knowledge available about 3D printing in the maritime industry.”
His sentiments are echoed by Mohamad Ali of PaxOcean, who cites, “I’m looking for hybrid printing to build ship parts, but right now, I haven’t seen anything here that we can explore yet.”
Is 3D printing viable for the maritime industry in Singapore? The potential is high, and so are the stakes, especially in terms of safety regulations. There is a long way to go before it is deemed suitable for use, but with the Partnership between NAMIC, SkillsFuture and MPA, it is a big endorsement and yet another defining moment on AM technology and NAMIC’s role.