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With the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center, the US Department of Defense 3D-printed the world’s largest prototype logistics vessel.
The Marine Corps Systems Command’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell (AMOC) used advanced manufacturing techniques to develop two composite vessels using 3D printing in conjunction with the University of Maine Composites Center. Printed in 3D, the larger of the two vessels simulates the movement of 20-foot containers, representing related equipment and supplies from ship to shore. The second vessel can transport a Marine rifle squad, with personal equipment and supplies for three days. The prototypes may be linked together to increase the amount of cargo that can be transported in a single vehicle.
In addition to their ship-to-shore design and printing with 3D technology, these vessels are a part of Gen. David Berger’s ambitious vision to find low-cost technologies that offer high-quality and fast production at low costs.
University of Maine designed and printed the world’s largest 3D printed object, a 7-meter patrol boat, already in 2019. A double-sized cargo ship printed in 3D is now the latest achievement of the researchers. Team members of the project say the new ships will aid in the advancement of future complex production processes.
Due to the traditional materials and methods used to construct vessels, it may take about one year for a finished product to be produced. The new technology developed at the University of Maine, on the other hand, enables one vessel to be printed and produced in just one month. Three Guinness World Records were broken during the manufacture of the vessels using the largest 3D printer in the world (polymer 3D printer).
Scientists tested the printer by printing a 3D boat that weighed more than 2,000 kilograms – 3Dirigo. Their printing took 72 hours. Additionally, the same technology was used to 3D print a U.S. Army communications shelter in just 48 hours. Thus, the powerful printer can rapidly produce prototypes for both military and civil needs.