Just like the United States Navy, Denmark shipping company, Maersk is planning to add 3D printers to their fleet of ships so they can fabricate spare parts on board. Maersk has been transporting goods all around the globe for the past 110 years and they have a fleet of over 500 container ships. The company now wants to use 3D printing technology to service those ships while they are on the move.
Currently, Maersk uses uPrint SE 3D printers capable of printing with ABS plastic to manufacture spare parts; however the company does have plans to utilize metal powder based laser sintering machines in the future.
The ability to print spare parts en route will mean less maintenance downtime and reduced cost of repair. Märtha Josefine Rehnberg, a category manager at Maersk explained ““The idea is that we send the blueprint to the crew on board the tanker vessel, they will push ‘print’ and in a matter of hours get the part.”
While only being able to print with thermoplastics does limit the amount of components Maersk can repair, we’re sure laser sintering technology will drop in price and be more readily available for applications like this. We may even find food 3D printers or bio printers on ships in the future.