Since that time, the partners have continued to explore design possibilities that additive manufacturing offers to boat builders. To produce larger parts, they developed a specialized extruder and partnered with KUKA Robotics, software provider Autodesk Inc. and LEHVOSS, a German chemical company that specializes in high-performance carbon and glass-fiber reinforced polyamide (PA).
One of the big advantages to this printer setup was its six axes of movement. “The first time we had to put our extruder in a CNC machine with three axes, x, y and z. But with six axes we can find a different configuration that can better solve many problems in the dynamics of the movement of the robots. This allows for more precision in the part,” says Cevola.
With 3-D printing, Cevola can find different solutions to boat building challenges. “We want to change the rules for sailboat and motor boat manufacturing, because right now they are designed and built the same way they have been built for 50 or 60 years,” he says. “There needs to be more innovation in the marine industry.”
Boat builders typically produce a wooden model, build composite molds from these models and then use the molds to build the hull or other parts with FRP materials. This can be both expensive and time consuming, Cevola says. “We propose a new era for the production of boats – building without the production of molds.”
Working with molds is limiting, since you have to respect the “rules” of the mold when designing a boat hull, deck or other component, says Cevola. For example, the part has to be shaped so that it can be successfully extracted from the mold. “With 3-D printing, you can create shapes that enable you to design new functions into your object. You can integrate many different functions when you don’t have to follow the rules of the mold,” says Cevola. “It’s a new vision, a new possibility for design.”
The Livrea Yacht partners have a specific goal in mind as they experiment with manufacturing boats through the 3-D printing process. They intend to enter a 3-D printed yacht in the 2019 Mini Transat, a 4,000-mile solo race that starts in France and ends in South America.
It would be the first 3-D printed boat in history, says Belvisi. “In the Mini Transat project, we are exploring new ways to produce a high-performance boat, thanks to the possibility of integrating multiple functionality and of manufacturing complex and optimized structures that aren’t possible to build in the traditional way.”