Next, we are going to start a series of articles with which we intend to shed light on the opportunity that opens up for the maritime industry with additive manufacturing. First of all, it is important to define what is the motivation that drives us to be here doing what we do.

The maritime industry has built a huge dependency on foreign suppliers, for a variety of parts and components, including system subcomponents, valves, pumps, housings, supports… the list is long. This dependency has led to a number of challenges, including the high costs of stocking spare parts for companies and the high costs of downtime waiting for critical components to be shipped from overseas.

The consequence of this is clear: increased risk of shortages, strong supplier dependency, destruction of intellectual property, loss of reputation. These elements finally affect the operations of the companies, reducing their competitiveness and market volume. Clients just buy somewhere else! Likewise, the global relocation of manufacturers results in greater supply-related CO2 emissions during the life cycle of ships and marine facilities.

In addition to these challenges, the procurement departments of maritime companies often face the task of making long and costly research to find suitable manufacturers in a rush. This can be particularly difficult in the event of a global supply chain crisis, such as the one currently being experienced.

One challenge that the maritime industry faces is the issue of early obsolescence of components. Simply as time goes by, or due to a highly dynamic OEM market, certain parts and components may become outdated or obsolete, requiring replacement with newer versions. This can be costly for companies, as it requires the procurement of new systems and the disposal of the old ones.

In addition to the financial costs, the process of replacing obsolete components can also lead to downtime, as ships may need to be taken out of service for maintenance and repair. This can be particularly challenging for companies that rely on their vessels for their operations, as downtime can lead to lost revenue and decreased productivity.

One solution to these challenges is the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Additive manufacturing allows to produce parts on-demand, reducing the need for inventory and eliminating the need to wait for parts to be shipped from overseas. In addition, additive manufacturing allows to produce customized designs, which can be useful for companies that need specialized or one-of-a-kind parts.

The European maritime industry can only hope to differentiate itself by leading innovation. However, large companies have large internal inertias that reduce and slow down their capacity for innovation. In these cases, innovating by applying a proven technology, hand in hand with a small, highly specialized supplier, with a very high capacity to adapt to the specific needs of its clients, proves daily to be the only effective alternative.

3Dock is here to meet the specific demand of the maritime industry, providing fast & affordable availability of non-standard components, meeting quality and compliance requirements while diversifying the supply chain.