Just a few months after launching its Early Adopter Program for 3D printing spare parts for the maritime industry, global maritime company Wilhelmsen has announced the first successful commercial delivery of 3D printed scupper plugs to a Berge Bulk vessel. The shipment marks an enormous step towards normalizing the use of 3D printed spare parts on ships.
The parts in question were delivered to BergeMafadi, a vessel belonging to Berge Bulk, one of the partners in the Early Adopter Program. Other members of the EAP include Carnival Maritime, Thome Ship Management, OSM Maritime Group, Executive Ship Management, and Wilhelmsen Ship Management.
“We are very excited with this milestone—completing one of the first commercial deliveries of 3D printed parts in the maritime industry,” said Hakon Ellekjaer, Head of Venture, 3D Printing, Wilhelmsen Ships Service. “This is just the beginning of the journey, and we are quickly expanding our offering, together with our key development partners, enabling our customers to benefit from the savings provided by 3D printing, digital inventory and on-demand localized manufacturing.”
The EAP is being carried out by Wilhelmsen in collaboration with Ivaldi Group and is being overseen and monitored by quality assurance group DNV GL. Each 3D printed spare part is subject to careful analysis before being approved and sent out for deployment, including a selection, digitization and documentation process. Each spare part produced using 3D printing is accompanied by a print passport that contains design, manufacturing and performance requirements.
In the first commercial shipment of 3D printed parts, Wilhelmsen and Ivaldi sent several 3D printed components to BergeMafadi, including scupper plugs, which are used to close drainage holes on the open deck to prevent oil spills or other types of spills aboard the ship. Typically, each drainage hole on a ship’s deck has its own scupper plug.
“Scupper plugs are expensive, and there are no universal dimensions, which means that when you have a broken element, you have to buy a new scupper plug,” explained Sim Teck Siang, Procurement Manager at Berge Bulk. “With additive manufacturing, we are able to procure scupper plugs faster, cheaper and locally. If any part breaks, we can replace that one part instead of the whole unit. We are excited to be part of the Early Adopter Program. On-demand additive manufacturing will revolutionize the spare parts industry.”
Captain Tarun K Gupta, Master of BergeMafadi, added: “It is very exciting for us at Berge Mafadi to try out new technology and the possibilities it will bring. Spare parts are currently a pain point, and we have trouble with for instance scupper plugs as they are easily stolen for their brass components. They are expensive, and we are constantly needing to replace them. By replacing them with plastic, we are eliminating any possibility of theft, and best of all, we get them on-demand within a short period of time.”
Each 3D printed scupper plug is also marked with a unique identifying code that is being logged through a trial system, enabling Wilhelmsen, Ivaldi and DNV GL to test their universal part tracking system. The 3D printed scupper plugs also have the benefit of being printed as an assembly, meaning that if one part breaks, it can be replaced without reprinting the entire plug. They can also be produced on-demand thanks to digital warehousing, which eliminates the need for overproduction and inventory.
”A commercial world first is a significant milestone for Ivaldi and our partners and we are grateful to them for taking the leap with us,” concluded Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Ivaldi Group. “Humble as the scupper plug may be, we believe it a step in transforming an entire industry: by sending files rather than scupper plugs we are amongst other things able to reduce CO2e emissions on this one part by some 54% and this gives me great hope for the possibility of a more sustainable future for supply and logistics.”