The Manufacturers Leading Globally on AM Maritime Solutions

The maritime sector is benefitting from additive manufacturing
Mencast Holdings, Immensa and CEAD are leading additive manufacturing's application in the maritime sector in Singapore, Dubai and the Netherlands

According to research by DNV Group, additive manufacturing is set to make waves. The consultancy identifies 3D printing as a major pillar in what it terms the fourth industrial revolution, alongside AI and IoT.

Additive manufacturing is a strategy many manufacturers, across varying industries, are already adopting as a means to ensure competitiveness, enhance sustainability and supercharge productivity. However, there are some sectors where the embrace of 3D printing has been comparatively slower. One such area is the global maritime industry,

Despite the fact additive manufacturing is well-suited to its demands and pressures. 

The maritime sector requires heavy-duty equipment to be deployed in corrosive, unpredictable environments as part of handling capital-intensive assets. Downtime creates material revenue losses and safety concerns, as operations must meet rigorous safety standards whilst at sea. Obtaining and transporting spare parts creates planning challenges, as assets change locations frequently. 

All of these realities make the maritime sector ideal for additive manufacturing, which offers a cost-effective, efficient and more sustainable production and storage solution. The sector's slower adoption is not down to suitability, but several other factors. 

Key facts
  • A lack of reliable testing opportunities in marine environments for additive machines
  • A lack of certification and classification surrounding machines and parts in the maritime space, which impacts their ability to be reproduced and widely used
  • A lack of education in the sector surrounding additive strategies and technologies

While adoption might be slower, this doesn’t mean progress hasn’t been made. In the last four years in particular, additive manufacturers across the globe have been working with the maritime industry to introduce the technology, enhancing operations.

Manufacturers in three specific countries have been leading the way, and today at Manufacturing Digital we want to highlight them, their contributions and how they’ve been supported by national institutions and initiatives. 

Three countries innovating with additive manufacturing

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Singapore’s manufacturing industry is notoriously geared towards technological advancement, leading to AI implementation and semiconductor advancement. With a sizable maritime industry, it was only a matter of time until additive manufacturing became a driving market force. 

Singapore is the world’s largest container transhipment hub and the world’s leading bunkering port. Supported by a robust port service ecosystem, its maritime cluster includes the International Maritime Centre (IMC) and the Hub Port, both of which shape international trade and the maritime industry.

In 2022, NAMIC Singapore, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Shipping Association published a white paper on the nation's Maritime Additive Manufacturing landscape. 

The report noted several key market drivers, including shorter turnaround times, addressing obsolete parts and improving inventory management. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) estimates additive manufacturing will generate US$100bn of incremental value by 2025, raising projected real GDP to 2%. 

MoU signing ceremony, with Glenndle Sim, CEO of Mencast Holdings, pictured second left.

In 2023, ABS signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mencast Marine, a maintenance service provider for ship equipment parts and propellers based in Singapore. The MOU was signed to collaborate on developing the application of additive manufacturing for critical vessel components. 

“Pushing transformation boundaries through innovation is always part of Mencast’s DNA,” said Glenndle Sim, Executive Chairman and CEO, of Mencast Holdings.

“Our strategy is to position ourselves on advanced new technologies to support our decarbonization and sustainability journey. We foresee additive manufacturing (AM) will be the pillar for our sustainable growth,”

Both partners have since cooperated on testing, designing, manufacturing and qualifying maritime components through additive manufacturing. They have also utilised AI and data analytics to enhance the 3D printing process. 

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The UAE’s maritime sector is vast and pioneering, with recent expansion plans focused on the nation's capital. 

Last year Dubai was ranked among the top five global commercial maritime shipping hubs, superseding New York, Rotterdam and Hamburg to become the only Arab city on the list. 

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Dubai’s Crown Prince recently announced plans to overhaul marine transport, add new vessels and expand services- to carry millions of new passengers by 2023. 

This initiative intends to expand the maritime network by 188% and increase passengers by more than 50% from 14 million to 22 million annually. Dubai also has its specialised maritime cluster, the Dubai Maritime City (DMC) which operates as a pit stop for all the marine industry’s needs, ranging from yacht manufacturing to ship repair.

Dubai is one of the biggest pioneers in the MENA region for additive manufacturing- in both wider manufacturing and specifically in the maritime sector. 

Immensa, a Dubai-founded company and MENA’s largest digital manufacturer recently announced its partnership with Pelagus 3D, an on-demand digital manufacturer for the offshore and maritime industry. Pegasus is headquartered in Singapore, forging a vital link between the maritime development of both countries and manufacturing industries.

Fahmi Al Shawwa, CEO of Immensa

"Immensa seeks to be world-class in everything it does: technology, strategy, execution, talent, and its partners,” Fahmi Al Shawwa, CEO of Immensa, said.

“Today’s news brings two world-class partners together and we look forward to working closely with Pelagus 3D – which is developing the largest database of spare parts for additive manufacturing in the maritime and offshore industry - to transform inventory management across sectors.”

Both partners will collaborate to enhance digital inventory and additive manufacturing solutions for the maritime sector in the MENA region, with Immensa planning further regional expansion after launching in Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Additive manufacturing, through reducing waste and optimising efficiency also helps confront growing sustainability concerns in Dubai and across the MENA region. It’s already being used for this reason by the Dubai Marine Institute, which is using 3D printing to preserve and protect the city’s coastal and marine environment. 

Dubai Reefs, an initiative led by URB has the ambition of establishing a sustainable, floating city. This city, in addition to protecting the natural world, will support residential, hospitality, sales, education, and research facilities, creating 30,000 employment opportunities. 

The Middle East and Africa account for over US$4bn of the global energy sector's spare parts. Both companies estimate the partnership will open up at least US$2bn of incremental revenue opportunities- increasing those in the region by half. 

Haakon Ellekjaer, Chief Commercial Officer of Pelagus 3D

“This marks a significant milestone in our mission to drive adoption of on-demand spare parts in the MENA region.” Haakon Ellekjaer, Chief Commercial Officer of Pelagus 3D, commented.

“Through this partnership, we are offering enhanced additive manufacturing services and technologies for our OEMs and end users, fostering technological advancement in the industry. We look forward to working together with Immensa to further AM innovation and accelerate adoption.” 

3D-printed ferry concept design ( Image credit: DesignBoom)

The Netherlands 

The Netherlands is home to the largest port in Europe, in Rotterdam. This port, which handles over 460 million tonnes of cargo a year, is one of the world's most important connections for the maritime industry. 

The Port of Rotterdam’s Additive Manufacturing Fieldlab (RAMLAB) and Autodesk recently announced the 3D manufacturing of a ship’s propeller as their first pilot component. 

Pioneering the entrance of additive manufacturing into the maritime sector, the propeller was created through a hybrid manufacturing process that uses arc additive manufacturing techniques. These techniques include industrial robotics, grinding techniques and subtractive machining, utilised to process wire and other raw materials.

Manufacturers in the Netherlands were some of the first to embrace 3D printing. As early as 2018, organisations like marine engineering company Royal Roos were partnering with additive manufacturer CEAD to develop industrial 3D printers to create maritime parts.

Now the Holland Shipyards Group announced work to build the world's largest ever autonomous 3D printed ferry, to showcase innovations in autonomous and sustainable shipping. The concept ferry has electric propulsion and a 3D-printed hull made entirely of recycled materials, with automatic mooring and charging. 


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