Wednesday, June 3

New 3D Printer Makes 25-Foot Boat in 72 Hours

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The University of Maine just launched the world’s largest boat ever made by a 3D thermoplastic printer. The new patrol boat is 25 feet long, weighs 5,000 pounds and was built in just 72 hours.

A representative of Guinness World Records was on hand at the university’s Advanced Structures and Composite Center in Orono to present three world’s records: for the world’s largest polymer 3D printer, the world’s largest 3D printed boat, and the largest solid 3D printed item.

“This has never been done in the world,” said Habib Dagher, executive director of the composites center. “The purpose of this is to see what’s possible.”

Representatives of several Maine boat builders, including Sabre, Hodgdon, Front Street Shipyard and Navatek were at the boat’s unveiling. It was named 3Dirigo, after the state’s motto (meaning “I direct”).

The 3D printer cost $2.5 million, and was funded by the U.S. Army and the Army Corps of Engineers. Using a computer blueprint, the printer makes objects by adding layers of a composite blend of plastic and wood cellulose that harden as they cool. It adds thin layers of the liquid composite, over and over again. You can see the entire process in the video below.

The university received a $500,000 grant from the Maine Technology Institute to form a group of Maine builders who would explore how large-scale 3D printing using economical, wood-filled plastics could provide them with a competitive advantage. Dagher said the 3D printer could turn out a new hull mold much faster and at half the cost of any existing processes.

To emphasize the importance of the 3D printer to the state’s economy, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus S. King, Jr., as well as Congressman Jared Golden, were all at the boat’s unveiling. Read more:



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