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Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

An Ecosystem Approach To Drive AM Adoption In Maritime & Offshore

Additive Manufacturing (AM) has seen a surge in interest in recent years in the mobile asset industry, notably the aerospace, automotive, and defence. The Marine and Offshore (M&O) on the other hand, has seen a slower adoption rate in AM. This can be attributed to several reasons.

In the aerospace industry, owing to stringent safety requirements there are much fewer aircraft Equipment Manufacturers, with Airbus and Boeing dominating close to 99% of the commercial aircraft design market share. Similarly, for engine makers, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and CFM International contribute to the bulk of the engines used in the market, similarly controlling the aftermarket of parts and services. With large industry verticals providing aftersales of spare parts and the stringent certification of the industry, owners of the aircraft operators have limited options to turn to when it comes to replacing spares. Regardless, aircraft owners generally demand original parts over alternative supply options. However, in the M&O sector, there are over 10 large shipbuilder groups (e.g. Imabari Shipbuilding, Samsung, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, CSIC, CSSC, Oshima Shipbuilding, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Japan Marine United, and Fincantieri just to name a few) and hundreds other smaller shipbuilders of different tonnage internationally. As for the marine engine and propulsion maker groups, there are over 10 of them (e.g. Rolls-Royce, Caterpillar, Wärtsilä, Cummins, Hyundai, Honda, Mitsubishi, MAN, and Yanmar, etc.). It is hence easy to understand why there is more parts variability within a ship when compared to an aircraft or a car. This explains why M&O has many suppliers for marine spare parts, some with overlapping products, with any parts being supplied by tens of spare manufacturers. For AM to be adopted, original manufacturers will need to get onboard to license their parts to be printed at distributed service bureaus. It is easier to convince a handful of original manufacturers, which are responsible for supplying most of the spare parts in aviation rather than hundreds of original manufacturers for the M&O industry.

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