This is interesting, and could be a game changer for obsolete equipment/defunct OEMs. Early on I was picturing smallish plastic pieces and I wondered what parts these additive manufacturing systems could really be used for, but according to the trials on Polar Tankers ship its serious parts: “a gear set and gear shaft for boiler fuel supply pump, flexible coupling used on a marine sanitation devices pump, and an ejector nozzle for a fresh water generator,”
However, reading this and some of the referenced prior trials got me thinking…Is it really going to be that impactful for most equipment or critical equipment? Much of the equipment onboard is Class Equip or Type Approved equip. So it looks like any parts made on a 3D printer will have to have gone through a similar approval process (and be made on an approved printer, at an approved location). If I’m reading the ABS Guide for Additive Manufacturing correctly this means you can’t just make a random part in a pinch unless it’s already gone through a design/engineering/approval review.
That puts a huge limitation on the usefulness. Unless your company has a very robust shoreside engineering group to source of all the applicable CAD drawings, file the applications, perform the tests, get ABS witness, and build a massive database (that in 10-15yrs will be useless), I’m not sure how far this goes. In very limited circumstances would the cost be worth while for any but the largest of companies with cookie cutter fleets.
Unless…unless someone wants to seed-fund a company for me to start building a subscription database of Class Approved printable parts…