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Hyundai Heavy Industries to Use 3D Printing Technology to Sharpen its Shipbuilding Competitiveness

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is set to develop 3D printing technologies for production of vessel elements in cooperation with academic institutions, universities and 3D printing companies to strengthen its shipbuilding competitiveness.
On April 16, HHI signed an MOU for the launch of a consortium dedicated to the development of 3D printing technologies to manufacture spare parts, with Ulsan ICT Promotion Agency; Ulsan University School of Materials Science & Engineering; UNIST 3D Printing Technology Center; Korea-Additive Manufacturing User Group; Wonforsys; Daegun Tech; Changsung; and Daeshin in Ulsan ICT Promotion Agency.

The consortium aims to 'print off' vessel parts and equipment with 3D printers to address lengthy lead times and costly design iterations. To this end, the consortium seeks to localize metal 3D printers and their materials, and develop relevant technologies and engineering solutions required to construct 3D printable parts.

3D printing has already caught on in a broad array of manufacturing sectors—except for shipbuilding—, from aircrafts, automobiles to engines. HHI is the first shipbuilder to launch a consortium with specialized institutions to develop 3D printing technologies specifically for shipbuilding purposes.

HHI will oversee the whole process of technology development, as well as engineering, process optimization, demonstration and assessment. Ulsan ICT Promotion Agency and Korea-Additive Manufacturing User Group will be tasked with the operation of the consortium and planning of research topics.

Moreover, 3D printer manufacturers, such as Wonforsys and Daegun Tech, will be responsible for creating metal 3D printers suited to making ship parts, while 3D printing powder maker Changsung and Daeshin will develop metallic powder tailored to the production of ship elements. Ulsan University and UNIST will be charged with development of enabling technologies and assessment of materials and equipment.

To begin with, the consortium plans to manufacture the ship propulsion system with 3D printers. HHI will remain actively engaged with its consortium partners in the form of technology transfer and HR exchange in order to build a solid ecosystem of 3D printing in the shipbuilding industry.