The Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands opened its Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing Lab (RAMLAB) this week, what it calls the first field lab equipped with 3-D metal printers focused on port-related projects.
The RAMLAB features two wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) systems that are giant printers which can be used to 3-D print anything from ship propellers to lifting hooks. The printers also can be used to manufacture objects that are larger than 35 cubic feet.
The WAAM systems use two large arms that manipulate objects while they are being welded, which is carried out by a big robotic welding arm that is attached to an assembly line. The systems use steel wire and heat the material with an electric arc. Using wire feedstock allows the manufacturing process to be faster and cheaper because the steel is already partially formed.
The lab has eight partners working with the Port of Rotterdam in order to manufacture parts for a variety of vessels. These companies range from welding companies and fabrication houses to Autodesk and IBM.
The goal is to have the ability to print on demand components that can be used to help partners and other members when a part is needed in the port. The Port of Rotterdam is attempting to drive new port activities through innovation.