Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (RAMLAB), the port of Rotterdam’s 3D-Printing lab, is developing the first ship propeller made using 3D-Printing technology. The joint effort includes partners Damen Shipyards, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas. RAMLAB was set up to carry out R&D into how wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) technology could become commercially viable in shipyards. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has been used to make small plastic propellers in the past, but the building of this ship propeller marks the beginning of real opportunity for building larger scale products for superyachts. The RAMLAB team believe 3D printing will drastically change the industry.

This comes after Naval architect Greg Marshall’s presentation at the 2017 Superyacht Design Symposium earlier this month, where he put forward the benefits of printing full yachts in the future. Marshall said “Additive manufacturing is changing the playing field. In the very near future, we will be using it to build superior yachts that have significant material reductions and much smaller carbon footprints. He pointed out that whilst currently shipyards see about 15 to 20 percent of raw material wasted, 3D printing wastes more like 2 percent, meaning a saving of material as well as labour.

Marshall predicts that as the technology develops, eventually we will find that complete 45m yachts can be printed in 90 days, a great reduction on the current two to three years build time. Marshall said: “We picture by 2030 we’ll probably be fairly close to 3D printing full-scale metal structures on boats and interiors will come after that.”

See the full video of the opening of RAMLAB above to find out more about its projects.