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COMPANIES ESTABLISH MARITIME 3D PRINTING JOINT VENTURE

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 

Under a new joint venture letter of intent, Wilhelmsen's Marine Products division and thyssenkrupp are aiming to re-examine and optimise the production and delivery process of 3D printed spare parts for the demands of the maritime market.

With thyssenkrupp’s expertise in additive manufacturing, alongside Wilhelmsen’s maritime service and supply knowledge, the company’s recent experiences from its 3DP Early Adopter Programme will provide a stepping stone for the new venture. The programme, where customers have exclusive access to on-demand additive manufacturing, was launched by Wilhelmsen’s Marine Products division in December 2019. Customers include Berge Bulk, Carnival Maritime, Thome Ship Management, OSM Maritime Group, Executive Ship Management and Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

Based on current data, the maritime industry spends billions of dollars every year on spare parts; with 50% of vessels older than 15 years, availability of parts can be limited. This makes fulfilment of orders for maritime spare parts costly and complicated, and in fact, the supply chain overheads involved may often far outstrip the cost of the part itself. Moreover, traditional manufacturing processes such as machining and casting often involve long lead-times stretching into months. The traditional model of manufacturing and distribution of spare parts has largely remained unchallenged for decades, until now.

Hakon Ellekjaer, Head of Venture, 3D Printing, Wilhelmsen, said: “We are very excited to enter the next phase of our 3D printing journey, hand in hand with thyssenkrupp. With this joint venture we believe we will take the lead as the defacto supplier of 3D printed maritime spare parts, continuing to bring the benefits of AM technology to shipping companies by reducing the cost of spare parts, lead times and environmental footprint.”

Additive manufacturing, or 3D Printing, disrupts the costly and time-consuming spare parts status quo, as suitable components are fabricated near the vessel location in a matter of weeks, sometimes days.

“We are already seeing a very positive response from our maritime customers on the additive manufacturing adoption,” said Abhinav Singhal, Director of thyssenkrupp Innovations. “They are realising the benefits from faster lead times, reduced costs and having more resilience in their spare parts supply chain. This is going to be a true gamechanger for the maritime industry and we are proud to offer it alongside Wilhelmsen.”

The joint venture will position Wilhelmsen and thyssenkrupp as leaders in the maritime AM fulfilment platform, offering a customised, on demand, and more efficient process of obtaining selected spare parts. Expected to be headquartered in Singapore, it will serve key port locations worldwide. In addition to the collaboration with thyssenkrupp, Wilhelmsen continues to work with additive manufacturing company Ivaldi Group on a number of 3D printing software applications.

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