25-foot boat ‘printed’ by University of Maine’s new 3D printer

PORTLAND, Maine (Log News Service)—The world’s largest 3D printer has created the world’s largest 3D-printed boat. And the University of Maine demonstrated on Oct. 19 that it’s seaworthy.

The university unveiled the 25-foot, 5,000-pound boat that was printed at the university’s Advanced Structures & Composite Center. It’s one 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, which cost $2.5 million, is going to allow us to innovate so much faster by having prototypes made faster than in the past,” Dagher said.

The university demonstrated its boat in the university’s W2 Wave Wind basin “ocean simulator,” which looks like a giant swimming pool.

The printer, also unveiled, is currently 70 feet long and will grow to 100 feet with an extension, Dagher said.

The 3D printer, which can gobble up 500 pounds of plastic polymer pellets per hour, is already proving useful as demonstrated by the patrol boat. But the university hopes to make it better.

Dagher said, if it works according to plan, the printer would be able to quickly produce items like molds for boats or concrete casks that could be recycled afterward, he said.

In addition to the boat, the university used the printer to create a mold for a bridge girder and a communication shelter for the Army.

As for the boat, it was the first thing printed by the university, and it was created in one solid piece during a nonstop printing over 72 hours. It cost about $40,000 to produce.

Guinness World Records confirmed it’s the world’s largest 3D-printed boat, the largest 3D-printed object and largest prototype polymer 3D printer, the university said.

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