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How might we attain consistent and repeatable quality in the Additive Manufacturing (AM) process so as to instill confidence and adoption in the maritime industry?

Key Focus Area:

Smart Maritime Services and Logistics

Additive manufacturing (AM) holds potential for the maritime industry especially in built-to-order spare parts for vessels. By enabling on-demand layer-by-layer AM closer to the user, the use of AM can reduce lead times and transportation costs, overcoming the challenge of spare parts inventory management.

However, the maritime industry today is still not readily accepting the technology despite what its potential shows, due to various barriers for wider adoption. One of them is the uncertainty of the quality of AM built marine spare parts and their reliability for onboard installation and application.

In order to build confidence and assure the quality of AM built parts, multiple traditional industry practices are usually employed, including feedstock sampling, qualification tests, test specimens, non-destructive and destructive inspections etc. However, they are not optimized for new manufacturing processes such as AM, leading to unnecessary costs and lead times to end-users.

Currently, the fidelity of AM built parts depends largely on the track record of the service bureau with a certified facility, as well as the experience of the operator, which in itself is already a largely uncertain factor. The industry requires more efficient ways to ascertain the fidelity of AM built parts, repeatedly and consistently.

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is looking at innovative technological solutions to ensure consistent and repeatable quality in the AM process so as to streamline AM qualification processes. These technologies may leverage the power of data to improve decision making during qualification.

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