The University of Maine (UMaine) Advanced Structures and Composites Center received three Guinness World Records for the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, largest solid 3D-printed object, and largest 3D-printed boat.

The world record ceremony culminated with the world’s largest 25-foot, 5,000-pound 3D-printed boat, named 3Dirigo, being tested in the Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory, an offshore model testing facility. The UMaine team has plans well beyond marine applications for the innovative new 3D printer.

With the ability to print objects up to 100 feet long by 22 feet wide by 10 feet high and at 500 pounds per hour, the one-of-a-kind printer will support several initiatives, including the development of biobased feedstocks using cellulose derived from wood resources, and rapid prototyping of defense and infrastructure applications.

A partnership between UMaine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is focused on producing new biobased materials to be used in the 3D printing of large, structurally demanding systems. The research collaboration will focus on cellulose nanofiber production, drying, functionalization and compounding with thermoplastics, with plans to create bioderived recyclable material systems with properties that may rival traditional materials such as metals.

In addition, UMaine will utilize the printer to support the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center in its mission to develop lightweight rapidly deployable shelter systems for soldiers. UMaine will also work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a 21-foot-long 3D-printed mold for a new 76-foot-long composites bridge girder. The girder has been licensed to a UMaine spinoff company, Advanced Infrastructure Technology, that is fabricating girders for a bridge to be constructed in Maine in summer 2020.

Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said “With this large printer, we will be able to accelerate innovation and prototype development in both the civilian and military sectors. This 3D printer is an outgrowth of research we have been doing for 15 years in combining cellulosic nano and microfibers with thermoplastic materials.”

David Horner, director of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center Information Technology Laboratory, added, “The large 3D printer capability will greatly support research in applications to both military engineering and national civil works infrastructure.”

Photo Credit: UMaine