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DNV GL introduces maritime 3D printing guidelines

A 3D-printed aluminium replica of a mooring chain testing bed at the DNV GL lab in Bergen A 3D-printed aluminium replica of a mooring chain testing bed at the DNV GL lab in Bergen

DNV GL reports that it has published the first classification guidelines for the use of additive manufacturing (AM), including 3D printing, in the maritime and oil & gas industries.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The new DNVGL-CG-0197 guidelines are designed to assure manufacturers and sub-suppliers of materials, parts and components, service suppliers and end users adopting AM technologies that the parts or components created by an AM process and the materials from which they are created have the same level of quality assurance as traditionally manufactured products.       

Additive manufacturing is a catch-all term for industrial processes that create three dimensional objects by adding layers of material. It includes technologies such as 3D printing, Rapid Prototyping (RP), Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), layered manufacturing and additive fabrication.

The latest AM processes allow for printing in metal, of particular importance to the maritime sector. A variety of products and parts have now been successfully printed for the industry, including screw pins, bearing shells, box heat exchangers and propellers, DNV GL says.

“Additive manufacturing means products and components can be printed according to local needs, or even on board ships and offshore installations,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO DNV GL – Maritime.

“This equates to less lead time, less cost, less labour, less logistics, and less need to keep stocks of spare parts. AM can also be used for maintenance and repair, simply adding layers of material to worn components, thus negating the need to replace them.”

With the new guideline, DNV GL says it has created a pathway for AM certification and has processes in place to assess a variety of parameters that will impact upon the final products – from the material used, to a technology assessment, manufacturing procedure qualification, data transfer, and the actual printing and post processing.

“AM parts that perform the same functions as those produced in traditional manufacturing environments must offer the same levels of quality assurance,” said Marit Norheim, vice president, material specialist, hull, materials & machinery at DNV GL – Maritime.

“Similarly, the companies that have designed the parts must protect their intellectual property, so that customers can be sure they are receiving genuine products that are guaranteed fit for purpose. This is why this guideline is so important to all industry stakeholders.”

These guidelines have been released just as Danish 3D print designer Create it REAL has begun a new maritime 3D printing pilot project in conjunction with the Green Ship of the Future consortium in Denmark.

Financed by the Danish Maritime Fund, the Green Ship of the Future project already includes a host of industry heavyweights, including J. Lauritzen, Maersk Line, Maersk Tankers, Maersk Drilling, MAN Diesel & Turbo and Copenhagen Business School, as well as DNV GL.

“3D printing technology is developing rapidly and we believe it is ready for utilisation in the maritime industry,” said Sverre Patursson Vange, J. Lauritzen.

“However, the harsh environment and the top priority to safety calls for precautions, (which is) why we are very pleased to have DNV GL, MAN Diesel & Turbo and Create it REAL participating in the project to address these issues.”

While the convenience of being able to ‘print’ spare parts locally makes 3D printing an appealing prospect in maritime, Create it REAL says that issues such as safeguarding intellectual property (IP) rights and ensuring safe transmission of files are key questions that must also be addressed by the project.

To tackle some of these issues, the company says it has created a platform that can be integrated with existing 3D printers to allow for secure file decryption to take place directly on the printer, meaning that crews on board will be able to print items as required but will not be able to access the original files.

The pilot project with the Green Ship of the Future consortium will see secured 3D printers delivered to different locations, including ships and drilling stations, alongside training tools and videos for the crew to test how the whole process could work in practice.

“We believe many companies are facing the same problem – how to share my files with my partners or customers while being sure to keep my intellectual property safe,” said Jeremie Pierre Gay, founder of Create it REAL.

“The business model we are creating thanks to our technology is a bit like listening to music on online platforms. You do not access the MP3s but you can still listen to the music depending on your subscription. We aim to create the same positive environment where end-users will have access to high quality branded content and IP owners keep what they worked for.”{/mprestriction}

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