Wilhelmsen and thyssenkrupp seek to change the costly and time-consuming maritime spare parts status quo by supplying 3D printed ones. Additive manufacturing, or 3D Printing, allows suitable components to be fabricated near the vessel location in a matter of weeks, sometimes days.

The planned joint venture will combine thyssenkrupp’s expertise in additive manufacturing with Wilhelmsen’s Marine Products’ maritime service and supply know-how. Expected to be headquartered in Singapore, it will serve key port locations around the world.

Based on current data, the maritime industry spends billions of dollars every year on spare parts; with 50 per cent of these vessels older than 15 years, availability of parts is limited. This makes fulfillment of orders for maritime spare parts costly and complicated. 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.

Stepping stone

Wilhelmsen had already developed a 3DP Early Adopter Program, which will serve as a stepping stone for the new venture. This program, where customers have exclusive access to on-demand additive manufacturing was launched by the 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.

‘We are very excited to enter the next phase of our 3D printing journey, hand in hand with thyssenkrupp,’ says Hakon Ellekjaer, Head of Venture, 3D Printing, Wilhelmsen. ‘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.’

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.