Flagship 3D printing project on oil tanker test beds


Written by

Nick blenkey

The additive manufacturing parts have been validated in good condition after six months of service on Polar Endeavor. [Image: ConocPhiillips Polar Tankers]

In an important step for the use of 3D printing in the maritime industry, the parts manufactured by this process have been validated as being in good condition after six months of service on an oil tanker. The onboard parts test bench is the result of a pioneering joint development project between ABS, ConocoPhillips Polar Tankers, Sembcorp Marine Ltd. and 3D Metalforge. It started in February 2021 with the manufacturing and laboratory testing of 3D printed functional parts – more formally ‘additive-made’ (AM) – which were then installed on board the tanker. Polar agreement. After six months of operation, all parts have since been collected and inspected by the ship’s crew, followed by a remote investigation by ABS.

“We are delighted with the performance of the parts and the success of the project,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS senior vice president, global engineering and technology. “This is an important step forward for a technology that certainly has an important role to play in the future of the maritime industry. ABS is committed to ensuring that these types of parts are introduced without compromising safety.

Additive manufacturing is the manufacture of parts by adding material, layer by layer. This means that products and components can be manufactured locally or potentially aboard vessels and offshore assets, reducing the supply chain and lead times for specialized and complex parts, introducing new efficiencies through to design innovation, reduction of manufacturing time and improvement of parts availability.

Traditionally, parts used in shipbuilding and repair are made through casting or forging techniques. For this project, however, the consortium used AM to manufacture three types of parts that meet or may even exceed conventionally manufactured products in terms of quality.

ABS has now approved these aftermarket parts manufactured with additives after successful onboard testing on the tanker.

The three parts were:

  • Boiler Fuel Feed Pump Gear and Gear Set: The gear set includes a drive gear that rotates the idler gear connected to the pump that creates a suction force to fill the fluid vacuum. The shaft connects the impeller to the motor / motor, which is the power source.
  • Flexible coupling for marine sanitation device pump: The flexible coupling connects a drive shaft to a driven shaft for power transmission. Both shafts include metallic components for two coupling sleeves and non-metallic components for the coupling spider which allow misalignment adjustments.
  • A freshwater generator ejection nozzle that increases fluid velocity to transform high static pressure into velocity pressure.

“The superior performance of these parts in service is a testament to the rigorous engineering, manufacturing and post-production tests put in place by the team involved in this company,” said Robert Noyer, Engineering Superintendent of ConocoPhillips Polar. Tankers. “We look forward to future opportunities to support our vessels with this technology. “

Simon Kuik, Head of Research and Development at Sembcorp Marine, said: “The success of this project bodes well for the adoption of AM in the marine industry. Through AM, Sembcorp Marine is able to customize parts for our customers, reduce material wastage and eliminate supply chain inefficiencies. This increases our value proposition as a single supplier of innovative solutions for the offshore, marine and energy industries and affirms our sustainability ethic. “

Matthew Waterhouse, Managing Director of 3D Metalforge, added: “We are proud to work as a trusted partner, with companies like ABS, Sembcorp Marine and ConocoPhillips Polar Tankers to deliver greater value through new manufacturing solutions. and innovative, and to help respond to evolving component manufacturing. , supply chain and sustainability challenges.

The inspection and validation of these additively manufactured components supports our belief in this technology and its application. This exposure to the capabilities of additive manufacturing will expand its commercial applications and acceptance in the future. “


ABS claims to have supported the industry with the introduction of AM since 2017. In 2021, the ABS Guide to Additive Manufacturing was released, focusing on two main categories of metal AM processes: powder bed melting and directed energy deposition.

The guide defines the ABS approval and certification process for FA installations and parts by providing standards for FA design, raw materials, pre-construction, construction and post-construction processes, l inspection and testing.

Download a copy of the guide here.