UNB Engineers maritime shipbuilding with 3D Printing.

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Amid the clang and hum of a Saint John metal fabrication plant, a million-dollar marvel stands poised to reshape the shipbuilding landscape. This cutting-edge 3D printer, a powerhouse of innovation, is swiftly transforming powdered metals into highly efficient components that hold the potential to revolutionize the maritime industry. Welcome to the Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence at the University of New Brunswick, a pioneering research facility at the forefront of 3D printing in shipbuilding. In the heart of North America, engineers are harnessing the power of additive technology to create a sea change in ship repairs and construction. Imagine a future where ships sail with 3D printers, capable of crafting spare parts on demand while navigating the open seas. Professor Mohsen Mohammadi, the director of the center, envisions a scenario where ships stationed in remote and challenging environments, such as the Arctic, can fabricate critical components that were previously out of reach. The era of bringing a boat back to shore for repairs could become a relic of the past.”This is how disruptive this technology can be,” asserts Mohammadi. At the core of this maritime revolution lies the intricate dance of lasers and metal powder. Starting with digital blueprints, the 3D printer adds layer upon layer of metal powder, precisely fused by lasers. Unlike traditional manufacturing, which subtracts material to create shapes, additive manufacturing builds structures layer by layer, offering unparalleled precision and versatility.

The maritime industry stands to reap a bounty of benefits from 3D printing. The technology enables the production of intricate and complex parts, minimizes material wastage, simplifies small-scale fabrication, and slashes wait times for specialized components. Mackenzie Purdy, the 3D print specialist orchestrating this intricate symphony of innovation, is at the helm of this transformation. Hamed Asgari, the center’s Lockheed Martin research chair, is exploring the next frontier in additive manufacturing: 4D printing. With dynamic materials that respond to environmental conditions over time, this groundbreaking concept could herald a new era of adaptable ship hulls and safety components. Imagine ship hulls that adjust under varying water pressures or temperatures, optimizing real-time performance.

Innovation is the compass guiding successful businesses into uncharted territories. Stay ahead of the curve by actively embracing and investing in cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to reshape your industry. Be open to disruptive ideas and foster a culture of exploration, as the most exciting opportunities arise at the intersection of innovation and adaptability.

Story by Alexandre Silberman •4d. UNB researchers using 3D printing to accelerate shipbuilding.

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