UM’s 3D printed boat took three days to produce

The University of Maine (UM) has secured three ‘world records’ with the successful production of a 25ft, 2.5-tonne boat created from a blend of plastic and wood cellulose and produced by a 3D printer.

Adjudicators from Guinness World Records were on hand to certify the world’s largest polymer 3D printer, largest 3D printed boat, and largest solid 3D printed item over the weekend. UM’s 3D printed boat took three days to produce.

3D printing makes three-dimensional objects by adding layers of liquid that harden as they cool. Habib Dagher, the composites center director and a professor of structural engineering, said the university worked with local shipbuilders to develop the boat and potential uses for the technology, according to the Portland Press Herald. He said the printer can be used to make molds that boatbuilders can use when they make yachts and other watercraft, speeding construction time.

Having the world’s largest 3D printer in Maine is “a huge win” for the state, said Steve Von Vogt, executive director of the Maine Composites Alliance.

He said the state is positioning itself as a leader in developing composites and manufacturing, and using material that takes advantage of the state’s wood products industry makes it even more attractive. As manufacturers look for ways to produce items without plastics and other petroleum-based materials, he said, blends that use renewable resources will be more attractive.

Some 160 students a year work at the center, with about 30 involved in the boat project. The capability is drawing students to UM, which Dagher said, which, in the long term, could help counteract the ageing of the state’s populace.