Innovation Focus

3D Printing Model Yachts

3D Printing Model Yachts

Among its many applications, 3D printing has been used recently to create accurate scale models of boats and yachts. CRP Technology, an Italian 3D printing company, masters this new technology using the selective laser sintering technique with Windform composite materials. NauticExpo e-mag talked to Franco Cevolini, Technical Director of CRP Technology.


NauticExpo e-magazine: How did you come to 3D print a model of a small boat ?

Franco Cevolini: The Livrea 26 was designed by Daniele Cevola and Francesco Belvisi in collaboration with Yam Marine Technology. They wanted an accurate model of the sailboat combining classic features with high-performance materials. Our team was fascinated with the idea of creating a scale model that would showcase their approach. Three-dimensional printing was THE process of choice. The result was a 1:14 scale model of the Livrea 26. The designers’ aim was to bring about a radical change in the way they design and build watercraft. We might consider this new philosophy as Boat Building 2.0, since 3D printing and the latest generation materials offer yacht designers the potential to unleash their imaginations.

NE e-mag: What material did you use to print this model?

Franco Cevolini: For 3D printing the Livrea 26 model, we decided to use Windform XT 2.0, a carbon-filled polyamide material which ensures maximum mechanical performance. Windform XT 2.0 is a high-quality laser sintering material. It is characterized by great stiffness, excellent strength and reduced weight.


The Livrea 26 3D printed model (Courtesy of CRP Technology)

NE e-mag: What are the main applications of this material?

Veronica Negrelli: Windform XT 2.0 evolved out of the groundbreaking high-performance Windform XT, a carbon fiber-reinforced composite particularly suitable for demanding applications such as the motorsports, aerospace and unmanned aerial vehicle sectors. We use selective laser sintering. Unlike other methods of 3D printing, products require very little additional tooling—they don’t usually have to be sanded or otherwise finished once they come out of the machine.

NE e-mag: Are you confident that 3D printing will soon replace many traditional production systems?

Franco Cevolini: Three-dimensional printing offers the possibility to build extremely complex or tiny parts that are difficult or impossible to tool. That’s why it’s particularly suited for creating boat parts, prototypes or scale models. Thanks to our knowledge, materials and machines, we can create previously impossible geometries with great dimensional precision. In the case of the Livrea 26, the interior parts were printed in sections and then assembled to achieve the required accuracy. The printing process can include internal details, making it the ideal choice for small production runs of items that are usually handcrafted or made with standard technologies.

NE e-mag: Do you have more projects in the nautical sector? Do you foresee making yacht parts previously manufactured using traditional methods?

Franco Cevolini: Yes to both questions. Due to ongoing confidentiality agreements, we are not allowed to tell you more at the moment. But we know that our technologies perfectly fit nautical industry needs.

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Another firm which specialized in scale model yachts is DeeThree, an offshoot of Northampton University in the UK. They started with a 62-foot yacht by the renowned Princess yard. It was a challenge as no CAD data were available.

DeeThree director Joe Mitchell says that they had to use a mathematical model called NURBS and software such as Rhyno and Maya to produce a 3D computer model. It was then split into 130 parts to produce highly-detailed pieces with 3D printing techniques. Internal elements were spray-painted in selected colors before assembly.

“The project required techniques from SLS, stereolithography and CNC milling and laser cutting to complete it start-to-finish in just 20 days,” says Mitchell. But the project didn’t end with the model. Dee Three also developed an augmented reality and a virtual reality application to allow the sales team to display the V62 scale model anywhere.