Additive Manufacturing for the Marine Industry

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On September 27, 2017, Posted by , In Marine, With No Comments

As our name suggests, Addaero is a manufacturing company that provides additive manufacturing (AM) services for primarily the aerospace community. Due to the prominence of aerospace as a market for AM, many people are surprised to find that the marine industry is also one of Addaero’s primary markets and wonder where AM can be implemented in marine applications. To address these questions and more, this blog looks at where AM technology makes sense in the marine industry and how it can benefit designers and operators of marine crafts alike. To show examples of how the technology is currently being used, photos are included throughout the blog of titanium hardware fabricated by Addaero using the Arcam Q20+ EBM machine. The vessel pictured is the sailing yacht Toroa which was designed by Botin Partners of Spain and constructed by Brooklin Boat Yard of Maine  More details on the boat can be found here.

Why AM:

At Addaero we always tell our customers that there are three principal reasons to investigate additive manufacturing for their business: low volume, high complexity, and long lead time.  All three of those challenges exist in the marine industry and below are examples of each.

Low Volume:

The chock shown had a required quantity of 2 pieces, allowing AM to realize significant cost and time savings.

The chock pictured on the right is a good example of a low volume application as the required quantity for this part was only 2. If additive manufacturing was not at the engineers’ disposal, the geometry of this chock would have driven them to a casting solution. Although casting is a practical method of manufacturing the chock, it is not time and cost effective in low volumes due to the time and cost of the mold being spread out over only a handful of parts. Additive manufacturing on the other hand requires no molds or tooling, making it more time and cost effective for low volume models. More so, the designers of the Toroa were able to further take advantage of AM by using multiple chock designs for different areas/functions on the vessel. Without the need to wait for additional tooling for each new geometry, multiple low volume designs were produced in weeks rather than months.


High Complexity:

The snout has internal channels printed directly into it for organizing lines (left = as-printed, right = installed).

The snout pictured (after printing and then after installation) is responsible for the management of lines running to the jib or spinnaker sail to the front of the vessel.  The part has significant loading requirements and has multiple internal channels for the lines to run freely.  In conventional manufacturing, this would be a significant if not impossible challenge with multiple machining and casting operations that would not deliver the required strength for the application. With additive manufacturing, the part can be processed in a single printing operation with no sacrifices in strength.

Long Leadtime:

In less than 2 weeks the deck organizer shown went from .CAD model to a printed and polished piece.

Pictured on the left is one of many deck organizers that were manufactured using AM. The deck organizers are used to keep the lines organized to ensure that the boat can be managed under sail with a minimal crew.  Because lines are running through the organizer, there had to be limited surface roughness to minimize friction. Using AM, these parts were fabricated and polished in less than 2 weeks compared to milling or casting which would require at least six weeks.  On top of lead-time, cost was also saved by completing the parts in a non-dedicated build (Addaero offers customers the ability to, when possible, include their parts in a run with other customers’ jobs to divide up build costs; opposed to a run dedicated to one customer). Built in Titanium, these parts will provide years of maintenance-free operation.


As you can see AM makes good sense in the marine industry and others that have similar challenges.  From the largest US Navy warships to the smallest pleasure boats AM will continue to grow in the industry and solve new challenges as they come along.

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