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Thread: 3D printed boats

  1. #1
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    Default 3D printed boats

    For the past year or so, I've been collaborating with my Australian friend, Selwyn Holland, in what we think is a project that represents the future of Open Class development.

    That may sound like hyperbole, but we have been able to combine my design work and Selwyn's engineering to produce 3D-printed boats. I realize that a number of you have printed fittings successfully, and some have experimented with hulls, but Selwyn's extensive experimentation and testing have made 3D printing a viable alternative to any other construction method...and a better one than most.

    Here is a picture of one of our RG65 prototypes on the water:

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    If that intrigues you, check out his new website here https://3dprintedradioyachts.com/

    Still having fun with toy boats..........Bill
    Last edited by mudhenk27; 04-14-2017 at 08:09 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Hi Bill,
    yes I'm intrigued and skeptic at the same time, but always curious !
    Most intriguing me are the weight, strength and costs once applied to a larger boat like a class M.
    Ageing effects ?
    I shall read the content of the link...
    Cheers
    ClaudioD

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Claudio, I understand the skepticism...but this really works.

    The largest boat we have on the water is an IOM...but Selwyn will be doing a 10R when time permits. A couple of test hulls were printed. Eventually, I think we will do all of the International classes. This picture is a test Selwyn ran back in October. With what we've learned since, I will redesign the deck to improve the quality and Selwyn will be able to print a better finish. The test demonstrated that large hulls are very doable, but it made sense to focus on the smaller classes until we get through our learning curve.

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    The weight and strength are no problem...comparable to carbon hulls. We waited to go public with this until we (mostly Selwyn) worked out the kinks and until we had boats that proved they could win races. Once the initial investment is made in the technology, printing a hull is dirt cheap. Of course, this is too new to know about the effects of aging.

    Since you already have the CAD skills, you just need to find a friend (like I did) who has a good printer. Even working across the globe, Selwyn can ask me for a change, I can do it and send it via email, and he can have it printing the next day. The slowest part of our turnaround time is when he has to send me stuff through snail mail.

    Bill
    Last edited by mudhenk27; 04-22-2017 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Added 10R picture

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Hi Bill,
    I went reading the paper and really found very interesting.
    Having said that I do still believe that the end quality of the product is very similar to what I have already seen in various shops selling extruded ABS type hull. To get it stronger are also heavy in spite of what expected.
    If the Hulls are longer then the permissible height of the printer, my understanding unless wrong, is that it is necessary to produce various parts (sleeves) to be joined later to get the Full Hull.
    For this material PLA nothing it is said about the resistance against UV. Probably is 'mandatory' to cover it with UV resistance paint to avoid brittleness after few months. ABS is known to be suffering from UV.
    Certainly is a very fast and clean method of construction, no sanding although the surface finish may be not the same as a mirror surface with a rugosity of less then 5Ám, as Reynolds would suggest !!!.
    This material is also shrinking during operations of about 1% and for a class M correspond to 12.9mm in length and equivalent % in width. These variations should be anticipated in the design or not ?
    I was expecting to read about bulb construction and obtained weights.
    Anyhow the technique is very interesting for our hobby.
    I wonder what could be the hull weight of a class M bare hull, examples given in attachments
    Cheers
    ClaudioD
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    Last edited by claudio; 04-16-2017 at 02:53 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Claudio, you are drawing me into a comparison of materials...but I think that is missing the point. Carbon is probably a better material than PLA, but by the time you carve and polish a plug, make a mold, layup and trim the hull, you could have produced several iterations of your design on the 3D printer. And I'm guessing that by the time my PLA weakens from age or UV rays, I'll be ready to print another version anyway.

    The great thing about printing hulls is not the material used, it's the process...the flexibility it gives you to design and produce with very quick turnaround and very low cost. If you build a hull with conventional techniques, then decide to change the rocker a bit, you have to basically start the lengthy process all over...probably taking a month to get a new version of your hull. With 3D printing, you can do that in a matter of hours...not weeks.

    3D printing also offers a much lower cost of entry into something like the Marblehead class. Many people can't afford to buy a commercial M hull, and are afraid that, if they did, it would be obsolete in two years. 3D printing is a way to ensure that an M hull is affordable, and that a new version can be easily afforded when the time comes to change.


    Selwyn and I aren't trying to sell anything, or convert people who are comfortable making plugs and molds and laying up carbon fiber, or put commercial hull suppliers out of business. We are offering an alternative to those methods for those who are uncomfortable with the high effort of other methods and the high cost of commercial hulls.

    It is the ability to quickly go from drawing board to prototype testing to finished version at very low cost that is revolutionary...it's a designers dream come true.

    As time goes on, Selwyn's website will offer more how-to articles and more info about our experiences with the process and with our boats. I also plan to do an article on the design process I use working in FreeShip, as well as provide files that people can use to print my designs if they don't want to learn to develop their own. This is the start of our exploration into this exciting technology...not the end.

    Bill

    btw...You are asking for comparisons for an M hull, which we haven't done as yet. You have built Footys, and Selwyn did give some examples of the Footy hull weights that you could use for comparison against what you have built. They certainly compare favorably to Footy hulls I have made...and are significantly lighter than ABS hulls that have been available.

    We do brush thinned epoxy on our hulls to make them completely watertight...before you ask, that made my 38g Footy hull/deck go up to 40g.

    Selwyn's hulls have a very nice, tight finish...but if you want a perfect finish, PLA is easily sanded.

    I just Googled about UV resistance...turns out PLA is highly resistant to UV radiation.
    Last edited by mudhenk27; 04-16-2017 at 06:01 PM. Reason: added btw stuff

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Hi Bill,
    I do agree with almost what you say, true if it is breaking it will be easy to make a new one and buy a new printer if needed !

    My Footy Esterel Hull was only 56g and was so sturdy that you could play rugby with !!! see picture. Never raced with, was just a manufacturing trial !

    I try to imagine what it is in favor and what it is against when the size will get larger.

    I recall in Italy a boat of 1 meter imitating the AC Cup. Was made in ABS as many other of the kind and sufficiently heavy that the deck was very close to water when racing. Tens of pictures demonstrate it, but most were very happy to have an (expensive Kit) boat to sail. For sure the error was made at the begin ignoring the ABS weight.

    After your first message and since curious by nature, I told myself to get more info about.

    I concluded, probably to early and wrongly, that this is not what I'm searching for.
    IMHO the technology offered by a 3D printer shall be offering similar characteristics with advantage you have mentioned: construction speed and fast design changes. No doubt about it.

    A class M being a racing model shall be competitive (probably the word 'racing' is not appropriated unless all the boats are made in the same way like the monotype Dragon Force RG65.

    In principle, for a given size and sail surface as per M Rules, the boat shall be as lighter and sturdy as possible to get a chance to be speedy, better if in the hands of good fingers. Similarly with the 10R .

    For the time being I'm ignoring if the 3D Printer can satisfy these criteria and I do encourage You and others to continue searching.
    Yet, I do not knows as the Bulb Weight is obtained.

    Having said that I will continue 'my learning' about 3D printing. Don't forget that I'm over 80' and spending 3 months to make a boat is getting more tiring !!!

    It would be nice if a could get a piece, against payment of course, of a small produced item with a 3D printer and perform a DPA - Destructive Physical Analysis.
    All the Best and Happy Easter
    ClaudioD
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Bill,

    what kindof finishing are you doing to the outside of the hull? sanding primer, paint, ect. to get rid of the ridges from printing?
    Marc

    S1M 1981
    Victoria 81
    RG65 181
    IOM 81, 681, 881

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Marc,

    Selwyn has worked so hard to optimize the thickness. speed, and temperature of printing that the ridges can't really called ridges any more...it really is surprising compared to other 3D work I've seen. I guess I'm bragging for him, but my Footy hulls are about 1/64" thickness, so there really can't be much in the way of ridges or there would be gaps. In our early attempts we had more ridges, and there were some gaps between them...not anymore. We brush thinned epoxy on the outside to make sure the hull is really watertight. The result is a pretty smooth, but not glassy, finish. If someone wants a flawless finish, a little sanding and a final coat is all that is needed. I'm not a big believer in the need for a flawless hull, so for me, the finish is good enough on the Footys that I'm not bothering to sand. I know Selwyn didn't sand the finish on the Shrink RG65, and it is performing very well against his club fleet.

    If I didn't have too many other things going, I'd have Selwyn print me a Shrink Swing to build and come down and sail with you guys again...hopefully can do at some future date.

    I'll try to get a close-up pic of a Footy print tomorrow so you can see what I mean.

    Bill

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    Click image for larger version

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    Marc, If you enlarge it, I think this picture shows the finish pretty well. It's one I posted on the Footy forum of my new hull that is somewhere between AUS and here...should arrive by end of the week.

    Bill

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 3D printed boats

    good call on coating it with some thinned epoxy.

    so start to finish on an RG hull how much time?
    Marc

    S1M 1981
    Victoria 81
    RG65 181
    IOM 81, 681, 881

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