The boat was printed in 72 hours and is 25′ long and weighs in at just under 2.5 tonnes and won the Composites Center three Guinness World Records for the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, largest solid 3D-printed object, and largest 3D-printed boat.
The new 3D printer is designed to print objects as long as 100 feet by 22 feet wide by 10 feet high and can print at 230 kgs per hour. The one-of-a-kind printer will support several ambitious initiatives, including the development of biobased feedstocks using cellulose derived from wood resources, and rapid prototyping of civilian, defence and infrastructure applications.
A $20 million research collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory, will support fundamental research in key technical areas in large-scale, biobased additive manufacturing. The partnership between UMaine and ORNL will advance efforts to produce new biobased materials conducive to 3D printing of large, structurally demanding systems. The research will focus on cellulose nanofiber (CNF) production, drying, functionalization and compounding with thermoplastics, building on UMaine’s leadership in CNF technology and extrusion research. By placing CNF from wood into thermoplastics, bioderived recyclable material systems can be developed with properties that may rival traditional materials, possibly even metals.
Biobased feedstocks are recyclable and economical, providing competitive advantages for Maine’s manufacturing industries, including boatbuilding. The UMaine Composites Center received $500,000 from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) to form a technology cluster to help Maine boatbuilders explore how large-scale 3D printing using economical, wood-filled plastics can provide the industry with a competitive advantage.
The cluster brings together the expertise of UMaine researchers and marine industry leaders to further develop and commercialize 3D printing to benefit boatbuilders in the state. By 3D printing plastics with 50% wood, boat moulds and parts can be produced much faster and are more economical than today’s traditional methods.
UMaine also showcased a 3D-printed, 12-foot-long U.S. Army communications shelter. The new printer will support programs with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Soldier Center and its mission to develop rapidly deployable shelter systems for soldiers. Other use areas include concealment applications, structural shelters and high-temperature fire retardant materials for vehicle-mounted shelters.