3D printing saves 17% on Navantia supertanker parts

3D printing for ships is gaining steam. In the U.S., the navy
is holding a number of trials for both offshore and
yard-based tooling
and also investigating 3D printing spare
parts. And
wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) has become increasingly
used in the Netherlands
for producing large, sea-faring and

rig components

Now, Spanish ship builder Navantia has launched a 3D
printed parts trial aboard the Monte Udala Suezmax oil

The Monte Udala under construction. Photo via Puente de MandoThe Monte Udala
under construction. Photo via Puente de Mando

The unlimited ship

Suezmax tankers are built to the largest ship measurements
capable of transiting Egypt’s Suez Canal. While not constrained
by length, Suezmax tankers are typically 50 meters
wide, and can be up to 68 meters tall.

In 2015, Navantia was commissioned by Ondimar to build four of
these supertankers to specifications of 274 m by 48 m (L x W).
Looking for ways to innovate the process, Navantia is
collaborating with the INNANOMAT
(Materials and Nanotechnology Innovation) lab at
the University of

3D printing leads to substantial savings

With UCA, Navantia has developed a purpose-built 3D
printer, the S-Discovery, for making large-scale boat parts. As
a trial run, the company has 3D printed two grills for the
Monte Udala’s ventilation system.

3D printed vent for the Monte Udala supertanker. Screen grab via Diario de Cádiz3D printed vent for
the Monte Udala supertanker. Screen grab via Diario de Cádiz

3.5 kilos of carbon fiber reinforced ABS now now replaces 25
kilos of stainless steel. Lead time for the part is cut from 5
days to just 3 hours. And the new part costs only $122 to make,
a 17% improvement on its steel equivalent.

In addition to the trial, Navantia has two other R & D
projects in the pipeline with UCA. In the 3DCabin
project, Navantia has 3D printed a modular toilet unit that can
be assembled from 5 parts. The cabin would typically cost the
company over $6,000 to build, but the 3D printed unit is only
around $3,600.

As we reported recently,
3D printed toilet units
are also at the center of a
response to a major healthcare challenge.

Right: Navantia and UCA's purpose-built 3D printer. Left: first product of the 3DCabin, modular toilet, project. Photos via NavantiaRight: Navantia and
UCA’s purpose-built 3D printer. Left: first product of the
3DCabin, modular toilet, project. Photos via Navantia

A third project, named Adibuque, seeks to
consolidate the process and better integrate it within the
company’s supply-chain.

Víctor Casal, lead of 3D printing projects at Navantia,

, “…we have detected a significant increase in work
in relation to the application of additive manufacturing in the
naval sector,”

“Now we must promote the realization of collaborative R &
D & I projects with our auxiliary industries, in order to
put our naval sector in its rightful place.”

Shipyard 4.0

3D printing is part of a large “Shipyard 4.0” initiative at
Navantia. Though still in its early stages, Pablo López,
director of Navantia shipyard Puerto Real where the 3D printed
grills were made, explains, “Navantia is firmly committed to
being a sustainable company in the naval, strategic and
international industry, developing competitive naval programs,”

“Shipyard 4.0 has clear objectives of reducing costs,
deadlines and increasing quality in our products and
processes, to achieve the competitive sustainability of the

In addition to 3D printing, the company will also be
considering how robotics, artificial intelligence (AI),
augmented reality (AR) and advanced simulation can contribute
to the shipbuilding process.

“The projects and initiatives underway make it possible to
visualize the potential that this line of work has for itself
and in the whole of Navantia’s commitment to the Shipyard 4.0
model,” Lopez adds,

“it can be foreseen that this technology has come to stay and
be part of our productive fabric in the near future.”

The 3D printed grills will be tested for corrosion rate and
inflammability aboard the Monte Udala in February 2018.

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Featured image shows the Monte Udala supertanker. Photo via

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