‘Big deal’: Big 3D printer makes big 3D-printed boat

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD -

The world’s largest 3D printer has cre­ated the world’s largest 3D-printed boat. And the Univer­sity of Maine has demon­strated that it’s sea­wor­thy.

The univer­sity un­veiled the 25foot, 5,000-pound boat that was printed at the univer­sity’s Ad­vanced Struc­tures & Com­pos­ite Cen­ter. It’s an ex­am­ple of how the mas­sive printer can cre­ate larger pro­to­types to as­sist com­pa­nies in prod­uct devel­op­ment, said Habib Dagher, found­ing di­rec­tor of the com­pos­ites cen­ter.

“This new printer is go­ing to al­low us to in­no­vate so much faster by hav­ing pro­to­types made faster than in the past,” Dagher said.

Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine, chris­tened the boat by smash­ing a bot­tle of Cham­pagne on its bow at the event Thurs­day in Orono. Later, she and Sen. An­gus King, I-Maine, climbed aboard for a demon­stra­tion in the univer­sity’s W2 Wave-Wind basin “ocean sim­u­la­tor,” which looks like a gi­ant in­door swim­ming pool.

The boat is named 3Dirigo, a play on Maine’s motto, which is Latin for “I lead.”

The printer, also un­veiled, is 70 feet long and will grow to 100 feet with an ex­ten­sion, Dagher said. The univer­sity and the Oak Ridge Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory in Ten­nessee are col­lab­o­rat­ing on the printer pro­ject.

“This a big deal. This is prob­a­bly the big­gest day for this univer­sity since Stephen King ma­tric­u­lated in 1965,” King joked, ref­er­enc­ing the best-sell­ing au­thor who grad­u­ated from the school.

The 3D printer, which can gob­ble up 500 pounds of plas­tic poly­mer pel­lets per hour, is prov­ing use­ful as demon­strated by the pa­trol boat.

The printer cost $2.5 mil­lion with ad­di­tional fund­ing go­ing to­ward in­stal­la­tion, com­mis­sion­ing and ma­te­rial test­ing, with most of the fund­ing pro­vided by the Army.

RON LISNET/UNIVER­SITY OF MAINE

A poly­mer 3D printer cre­ated the 25-foot, 5,000-pound boat, which was un­veiled Wed­nes­day in Orono, Maine.

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