In a joint venture just announced, Wilhelmsen and thyssenkrupp will examine ship supply chains to look for ideal applications to 3D print replacement parts.
With its wealth of AM experience, thyssenkrupp will take the lead on technology in the partnership as Wilhelmsen’s Marine Products division will sort out which parts should be considered for 3D printing. The collaboration comes after the success of the 3DP Early Adopter Program launched by Wilhelmsen’s Marine Products division in 2019. That program gave customers access to advanced AM services and was widely praised by participating customers.
We are very excited to enter the next phase of our 3D printing journey, hand in hand with thyssenkrupp. With this joint venture we believe we will take the lead as the defacto supplier of 3D printed maritime spare parts, continuing to bring the benefits of AM technology to shipping companies by reducing the cost of spare parts, lead times, and environmental footprint. Hakon Ellekjaer, Head of Venture 3D Printing at Wilhelmsen
There have to have been specific technological developments in 3D printing that the industry was waiting for because, on paper, the maritime industry looks like an ideal candidate for 3D printing adoption. The industry spends billions of dollars on replacement parts every year, and half of all vessels are more than 15 years old. When ships are that old, spare parts can be hard to find. Tooling up to manufacture old parts is a time-consuming and capital-intensive endeavor. Because of that, part suppliers will buy more than they immediately need to lower their production costs and prevent disruptions in the future. All that excess inventory takes up a lot of cash and space, which incurs further costs.
Working out of Singapore, they’ll be close to some of the largest shipping ports in the world, and printing replacement parts closer to where they’re needed will greatly reduce lead times and logistics expenses. According to thyssenkrupp, their customers are already feeling the benefits. “They are realising the benefits from faster lead times, reduced costs and having more resilience in their spare parts supply chain. This is going to be a true gamechanger for the maritime industry and we are proud to offer it alongside Wilhelmsen,” said Abhinav Singhal, Director of thyssenkrupp Innovations.