3D Printed Components for 51 Foot Yacht

A hull mold is the first step in boat construction, regardless of whether the manufacturing process is additive or traditional. It ensures that no imperfections pass through to the final composite. The process and approach to 3D printing components, regardless of the project, vary greatly depending on the project’s size. 3D printing company Thermwood, developed 3D printed components for boats, just none this size…

“Thermwood has already 3D printed a full-size pleasure boat master pattern which has been used to produce multiple boat hull molds. While this demonstrated the value of additive manufacturing for small boat tooling, much larger vessels, such as yachts, require a different approach. In these instances, since only a single mold is needed, it is desirable to print the mold itself rather than print a plug or pattern from which multiple production molds can be made.

To demonstrate how this might work, Thermwood printed a 10-foot section from a 51-foot long yacht hull mold. This rather unique mold design was specifically developed for additive manufacturing. It is printed in sections, each about five feet tall. These printed sections are then bound together both chemically and mechanically using high strength polymer cables into two mold halves. The two mold halves then bolt together to form a complete female mold for the yacht hull.”

ABS filament was chosen for both its physical properties and relatively low cost. Thermwood conducted a series of trials to determine exactly which material would be best for the project.

“The test pieces that Thermwood printed show that this approach will work in practice.  Certain thermosets will work directly on the ABS molded surface using just traditional mold release practices, however, other thermoset materials are based on solvents that can chemically attack the ABS polymer. To prevent this, Thermwood has experimented with several protective coatings including traditional mold gel coats.”

If you’re interested in learning more, access the full article here.