Earlier this month, LEHVOSS Group and its parent company Lehmann&Voss&Co. has become an official sponsor of the Livrea Yacht – the world’s first 3-D printed boat made with carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials.

Since 2014, Italian boatbuilders Francesco Belvisi and Daniele Cevola have been working on designing and building the boat for the next Mini Transat, a prestigious sailing competition across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to South America. They introduced their first yacht model with 3-D printed parts – the Livrea 26, Born by the Wind – at the Miami Boat Show in 2014. At the time, most of that boat was built using carbon fiber molds and conventional composite manufacturing techniques, and only some small sections were 3-D printed.

However, over the past few years, Belvisi and Cevola have established partnerships with a number of companies that specialize in 3-D printing in order to have a higher percentage of the boat additively manufactured. In parallel to the yacht project, the two entrepreneurs have driven the development of a dedicated direct extrusion 3-D printing technology with their company OCORE, which is providing the required quality of parts. Besides an improving the printing hardware – robot, extruder and nozzle – they have patented a new material deposition strategy using an algorithm inspired by fractals.

LEHVOSS Group supported the process development and additionally engineered and delivered customized 3-D printing materials dedicated to this technology and application. These materials, with the tradename LUVOCOM 3F, are based on thermoplastic polymers, such as high-performance polyamides and PEEK. To achieve the required mechanical properties, these polymers are reinforced with carbon fibers. Furthermore, the materials are modified to yield an improved layer strength, while printed parts show no warping. This, LEHVOSS says, leads to much stronger, more durable, lighter and precise parts.

Last year, Livrea unveiled the boat’s 3-D printed hull at the RAPID/TCT show. Working collaboratively with Autodesk and Livrea, processing experts at SABIC used the company’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM®) machine to print the hull components using two materials from SABIC’s THERMOCOMP™ AM portfolio: carbon fiber reinforced PPE compound for the hull’s outer layer, and carbon fiber reinforced PEI for the inner lattice support structure.

“The process of using large-format additive manufacturing enabled Livrea Yacht to eliminate the need for molds and prototyping, which can be costly and inefficient,” said Mike Geyer, director of Evangelism and Emerging Technology at Autodesk. “The 3-D printed hull is lighter and stronger, and can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost and in half the time, giving Livrea Yacht a competitive breakthrough that would not be possible with traditional fabrication. We are entering a very exciting time for complex, high-speed additive manufacturing.”