Additive manufacturing (AM) has seen slow growth thus far in the maritime industry. Like other industries, maritime companies and institutions have started using AM for prototyping and product development needs but is now beginning to expand into production of end use parts and production tooling. The slow adoption can mainly be attributed to a previous lack of education in additive technology and strategies, current lack of reliability testing of additive machines in a marine environment, and the need for classification and certification of parts and machines before shipowners and crews will likely adopt for widespread use. This article provides a perspective of recent AM activities within the industry and discusses the need for research in key areas before widespread utilization can occur. Current use includes a recent push in maritime education, surveys of maritime workers and stakeholders, and fabrication of replacement parts, propellers, and boat hulls. Prospective key areas with the need for further research include 1) use-cases for replacement parts on ship, 2) economic feasibility of putting 3D printers on board, 3) standards, certification, and quality assurance, and 4) reliability and repeatability in a marine environment.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard term for the application of 3D-printing technology with immense prospects for various industries. With this technology, functional components can be created by adding layer-on-layer of materials at a time in contrast to traditional “subtracting” processes that often carve out components from blocks of material (ASTM International 2022). AM has helped the success of various industries, including aerospace, medical, and automotive, by facilitating the process for prototyping conceptual models in an economic and low-volume production that would be very difficult to conduct in conventional manufacturing (Ziółkowski & Dyl 2020).