Singapore-Based Program to Study Feasibility of 3D-Printing in Maritime Industry

May 2019

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has initiated a joint industry program to study the feasibility of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, in the maritime industry. DNV GL, which provides classification, technical assurance, software and independent expert advisory services to the maritime, oil & gas and energy industries, has been appointed as the lead researcher of the first phase of the program and it will partner with ten member companies of the Singapore Ship Association (SSA) to examine how spare parts produced by 3D printers can help the capital-intensive industry to cut costs and downtimes.

Increased use of 3D printing could help reduce costs of producing spare parts for vessels, and also reinvent the production and logistics including using completely new and more suitable materials. Elements that could be potentially replaced by modern materials include brass components. The goal of this research program is to establish a list of commonly-ordered parts that are highly feasible for 3D printing. The findings from the research could encourage more maritime players to adopt AM to optimize their spare parts supply, and overall to strengthen Singapore’s value proposition as a one-stop shop with port services supporting a diverse ecosystem of shipping lines and maritime companies. 

The use of AM as an enabling technology for innovation and productivity improvements is one component of Singapore’s Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, which aims to grow the maritime sector’s value-add by USD 4.5 billion and create more than 5,000 highly qualified jobs by 2025. In 2015 a National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) was launched in Singapore to speed up industrial adoption of AM. In April 2018, NAMIC and the MPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on digitalization and advanced manufacturing in the Maritime sector, specifically on development of 3D printing applications. In October 2018, MPA entered into a collaboration with PSA (which operates Singapore’s ports), NAMIC and home-grown metal-printing company 3D Metalforgeto build the world’s first maritime 3D printing facility at PSA’s Pasir Panjang Terminal. 

In 2018, DNV GL released the first approval of manufacturer (AoM) scheme for additive manufacturing producers wishing to supply products that comply with the DNV GL rules and standards, following the publication of the first guideline for the use of AM in the maritime and oil & gas industries in 2017.    

(Sources: DNV GL; Indepth Maritime)

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