3D print a Yacht

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by kwhilborn, Nov 11, 2014.

  1. kwhilborn
    Joined: Apr 2014
    Posts: 16
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Toronto

    kwhilborn Junior Member

    Is anybody printing boats yet?

    I'm wondering if this might be the way to go for my retirement ship where construction must begin in about 8 years.

    I think since the build itself would be easy I could have a triple reinforced hull with walls and storage built into the 3D design. The vesell would then be sanded with normal fiberglass/wood/electronic finishes.

    I suppose you can use your own imaginings, but this seems like a fun project and much simpler than any other construction processes.

    I am thinking of adding supports to hold the boat upright as part of the design to be removed before fiberglass, etc.

    Any thoughts?

    Don't want to offend those who put blood sweat and tears into similar vessels, but this seems the way of the future.

    3D models can even be scaled down so you can float a 2 foot (any size)model of your boat before construction.

    The deck and above would be printed separate and added after fiberglass and interior finishings
  2. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 1,896
    Likes: 71, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 739
    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    No one is doing it, and the technology isn't even close to being ready. Even assuming it is technologically possible, I doubt it will ever be really cost effective to print a complete boat. Though printing parts for boats is already happening.
  3. kwhilborn
    Joined: Apr 2014
    Posts: 16
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Toronto

    kwhilborn Junior Member


    First look at these printed small models. Size can be adjusted by mouse clicks.

    3D printing of most anything is already possible and even cost effective. Do not forget the Printer itself would be resold after use, etc., and this project is still almost a decade away.

    Here is a dinghy printed using milk carton plastic as an example.

    Here is a nicer boat though fully built with 3D printer

    Larger printers do exist and they can already build houses.


    As you say, parts are already easy to reproduce. Examine the quality.

    I think it will be possible soon enough if not now.
  4. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
    Posts: 6,219
    Likes: 297, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 300
    Location: Spain

    TANSL Senior Member

    It is wonderful.
    Everyone can make his hull at home, and a team of electricians, plumbers, etc. will finish the boat. These teams also bring equipments that also have been printed at home, and in a few hours (or days) the boat will be finished.
    The shipyards building hulls will disappear.:confused:
    My only question, for now, is how to get the material, which is used to built all this, support the loads to which it is subjected the hull, deck, etc. of a ship. If this is something that, injected as powder, solidifies (similar to resin) I'm afraid it will not have sufficient mechanical properties.
  5. kwhilborn
    Joined: Apr 2014
    Posts: 16
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Toronto

    kwhilborn Junior Member

    @ Tansl,

    The materials can be almost any kind of plastic you can imagine. One of the links I gave was a small boat made from melted milk cartons.

    You could always finish with wood/fiberglass inside and out.

    You could cover same way you would cover a wood frame with fiberglass.

    Thanks for positive attitude. :)
  6. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
    Posts: 6,219
    Likes: 297, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 300
    Location: Spain

    TANSL Senior Member

    It is not positive or negative attitudes. In my opinion, the building system you mention, has a number of problems that must be solved before a reality. So I pose what I think may be one of the first problems to solve: the structural strength of the material that, at present, can be used in this new process.
    If you want to be positive, please look for answers. If you do not find it, we might think that the system, for the moment, is not viable or, to build hulls, is no good.
  7. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
    Posts: 3,054
    Likes: 150, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 579
    Location: Ft. Worth, Tx, USA

    upchurchmr Senior Member

    You really ought to read Tansl's actual message before a response.

    "The materials can be almost any kind of plastic you can imagine".
    That is just not true. I talked to a former coworker who moved to a printing company, and he pointed out that the plastic you use has to have specific processing parameters, so not all plastics are feasible.
    That doesn't count the issue that it is fibers which give strength to "plastics". Unreinforced plastics are good for milk jugs (seems to be your desire) but not for boats which need 10 - 20x the strength. Even if you have very short fibers, the strength increase is minimal. you need long continuous fibers, which no one does currently.
    High strength plastics are not particularly light either.

    The size of the printers are not big enough to do anything about a retirement boat in the near future.

    Keep watching, things do change. But you will blow your entire retirement now and get something no one will want to sail.

    If you don't want an opinion, you really should not post the question.
    If you want a discussion please respond with facts, not advertising brochure stories and wish full thinking.

    You might also search for the multiple threads on this same subject. There are people who have done things professionally with printing on this forum, including myself.
  8. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
    Posts: 1,374
    Likes: 56, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 746
    Location: Vancouver

    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Been doing houses in China, IIRC they use a concrete/plaster mix.
    Google should know.
  9. kwhilborn
    Joined: Apr 2014
    Posts: 16
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Toronto

    kwhilborn Junior Member

    @ Tansl,

    Yes. I belong to a 3D printing forum and was also looking for answers here.

    @ upchurchmr,

    I meant most plastics can be used for 3D printing. I do not mean they would all be feasible for this project, and I am an Engineer (Soil Engineer) albeit not one that builds anything so I understand some of the science.

    @ everyone,

    WestVanHan also points out they are printing houses with concrete and plaster mixes, although I'd prefer my boat not be made of concrete. :D

    The size of the project is not that hard to overcome as long as you have a solid X,Y axis.

    In an earlier post I gave links to 3D printed boats, but if you image search "3D printed boat", you can find hundreds varying from model size up to the size of fishing boats for now, with incredible detail and workmanship. Even the windows can be printed with clear plastic.

    I would feel confident the equipment is available now for such a project, but I am nowhere near ready to print as I don't even have the software. All I have is 2D paper drawings not accurate enough to switch to CAD and stitch, just the rough idea. V-Hull Trawler type hull. I would like a small junk rig for emergency use, but primarily it would be engine driven.

    I was mainly asking if anyone else had done this or is doing this. I am surprised the answer seems to be no.

    You can print scale models with a few mouse clicks. See this "boat" below. Everything you see on it was printed. See the quality finish after (MUCH) sanding.
    This was then painted.

    Yes. It is very possible using todays technology

    I think it opens up a world of design possibilities.

    You could have inflill like this between hull layers and creat double or triple hull vessels that are lightweight and sturdy.

    Life is good.
  10. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
    Posts: 6,219
    Likes: 297, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 300
    Location: Spain

    TANSL Senior Member

    kwhilborn, probably the first thing you have to know is that there is no plastic boat. From this fact, if you want, we can start talking.
    There are boats of iron, aluminum, stainless steel, ferro-cement, wood, but plastic does not exist.
  11. Grey Ghost
    Joined: Aug 2012
    Posts: 194
    Likes: 9, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 94
    Location: california

    Grey Ghost Senior Member

    plastics used in boatbuilding

    There are Roplene and HDPE polymere boats
  12. Timothy
    Joined: Oct 2004
    Posts: 307
    Likes: 15, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 202
    Location: canada

    Timothy Senior Member

    They can print titanium and aluminium now and 3d printing is in its infancy .In the future (probably distant), I imagine it will be possible to print different materials simultaneously producing incredibly strong and light egg crate , skin on frame, or bird bone like structures. It might be that 3d printing becomes the dominant manufacturing method for almost everything but unless you are a lot younger than I am, then I think a 3d printed boat is not a viable retirement project. I was looking into 3d printing some of the components of a proa design I am working on but it turned out they would be more expensive less durable or heavier. Not good.
  13. TANSL
    Joined: Sep 2011
    Posts: 6,219
    Likes: 297, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 300
    Location: Spain

    TANSL Senior Member

    Yes sir, you are quite right. Were also built boats of papyrus,
  14. kerosene
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 1,062
    Likes: 68, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 358
    Location: finland

    kerosene Senior Member

    Printing titanium might be viable more broadly in a bit but STILL only for special uses.

    I recommend the original poster searches for the recent 3d printing thread so we don't have to repeat it all.

    my take: You can print all kinds of stuff but when committing to printing you are throwing away decades of material and coating research and development. Also generally it (for plastics) extremely energy inefficient way to produce parts.

    2 reasons above are among my top arguments why we will not see the 3d-printing revolution some are so eagerly predicting. I did my 1st prints over 15 yrs ago and the change is not THAT major. Hobby machines are cheaper but what are they good for?

  15. Rurudyne
    Joined: Mar 2014
    Posts: 1,165
    Likes: 36, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 155
    Location: North Texas

    Rurudyne Senior Member

    We still have problems making the meatloaf look like turkey (Star Trek, Charlie X), never mind replicators.
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.