The University of Maine has printed a 25-foot, 5,000-pound, fully seaworthy boat using the world’s largest 3D printer. The 70 feet long printer uses plastic polymer pellets to form the “ink” for printing. It consumes up to 500 pounds of it per hour. The boat was printed in one solid piece resulting from non-stop printing over 72 hours. It cost about $40,000 to produce.
The university’s Advanced Structures & Composite Center printed the boat but, more importantly, has demonstrated how the huge printer can create large prototypes which can be valuable for product development at companies in many industries. The printer can spur innovation and decrease time to market compared to older methods.
3-D printing is becoming ubiquitous. From a 25-foot boat to human implants, the technology is leading to lower costs, better products, and even longer human lives.