When you’re on the middle of the ocean, traveling at 23 knots and a part breaks, what do you do?
If you are on a vessel that’s part of a Maersk fleet, you would just print it out!
Maersk Line have revealed that their vessels have been kitted out with 3D printers just for these situations.
On board 3D printing solves a lot of problems for container ships- it’s not cheap and certainly it is not easy to obtain replacement parts in the usual pop down the shop manner when you are hundreds of kilometers from the nearest port.
Maersk Line is one of the world’s largest shipping companies, having over 500 container ships in it’s fleet. Maersk’s HQ is located in Copenhagen, Denmark and it’s from this office that engineers can simply send a file to a computer on board the vessel that requires the spare part. It takes just a few short hours until on board engineers are holding their freshly printed replacement part.
Currently the printers are only capable of printing with ABS thermoplastics, however Maersk are currently looking into the possibility of future utilisation of powder based metal laser sintering machines.
Check out this quick video on the process:
Credit: maerskline.com and 3Dprint.com