SINTEF Ocean has been recently delivered a 6 meter long 3D printed ship model to be used for experiments in the ocean basin. Right now, this is the largest 3D-printed model in Norway.
"This is an experiment on our part" explains research leader Sigmund Kyrre Ås "in connection with the new Ocean Space Center, we are considering acquiring such a 3D printer ourselves, so that we can print models instead of building them manually".
Replaces PVC foam and wood
Today, the models are made of PVC foam and wood. PVC foam is a relatively soft material that is easy to process, modify and adapt. On 3D printed models, they are not as easy to change as they are made of hard plastic, but they are significantly cheaper and faster to produce. Production takes place in two stages; first, the plastic is deposited in several layers to form the geometry of the model. In the next step, the outer surface is milled down to the correct dimension and the model gets the surface finish.
We hope to be able to halve the production time by printing a model compared to today's method, which in turn gives a significant reduction in the number of working hours, Sigmund explains.
We are becoming more competitive
If we switch to using such models, we can become more competitive. The goal is to produce models with better accuracy, while reducing costs and production time. It may then be more appropriate to run more models per project, or make hull changes by printing over previous models. Streamlining model production will be important to utilize the capacity of the new sea basin and ocean laboratory planned in Ocean Space Centre.
The new model will soon be instrumented and tested in the towing tank, which will provide useful experience on how such models should be constructed. In addition, we will be better equipped to provide input to the supplier so that they can tailor a system that works well for model building. We will run drag tests of the model with different surface finishes, and compare with an identical model made of PVC foam and wood.