Maritime Network for 3D Printing is a German cooperation network on a mission to integrate digital fabrication into the naval realm. Their organization is centered around research studies as well as expanded building on innovation with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Ultimately, the group hopes to see increased competitiveness, globally—also working with the cooperation partners from the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany (MCN), which founded MN3D.
MN3D is aiming to improve the way challenges are handled within the maritime industry, relying on new processes and innovative products, says Daniel Klose, Network Manager at DSN Connecting Knowledge. Economic issues and environmental standards and requirements are involved in such developments, as researchers study how to make parts that are reliable, durable, and able to handle exposure to seawater and all the conditions accompanying the elements.
Lina Hams, Hamburg branch manager of the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany, states that cooperation and innovation are a ‘key factor for success,’ and adds that numerous individuals in the network have been learning about and using 3D printing already.
MN3D plans to create a roadmap for research and development projects to include areas such as:
- Surface quality
- Integration of sensors
- Component sizes
- Tool life
Along with members of the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany (MCN), the network includes 20 companies and research groups from all over northern Germany and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics’ Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM).
Network partners will be at the Maritime 3D Printing Show Area from February 2-5, 2021, displaying products and presenting more information about the processes they are currently using. Partners attending include:
- MCN members Winter 3D Konstruktions GmbH
- DNV GL SE
The Helmholtz Center Geesthacht Center for Materials and Coastal Research GmbH, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and the Maritime Center of the Flensburg University of Applied Sciences are also research partners.
While 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes may be relatively new in the maritime sector, progress is being made steadily in the field. Perhaps most notably is the work being performed by Wilhelmsen, one of the world’s largest maritime companies. The German corporation is growing its program for 3D printing spare parts for the shipping industry, most recently establishing a partnership for last-mile delivery of 3D-printed spares via drone.
Alongside Wilhelmsen is MCN member DNV GL, the quality assurance and risk management company that has opened its Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Singapore in 2018. There, the firm has begun a program to establish standards for the closely related maritime and oil and gas industries. Together with Wilhelmsen, German steel giant Thyssenkrupp is 3D printing steel maritime spare parts that have been certified by DNV.
This news from MCN represents an increasing amount of German expertise in the maritime 3D printing segment so that, as this area continues to grow, German firms may have a head start. And because much of this work is being performed in Singapore, where the Thyssenkrupp, Wilhelmsen and DNV programs are based, we can look to that city-state as a hub for maritime 3D printing as well.