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Thermwood 3D-prints a Hull Mold for a 51-foot Long Yacht

Updated: Nov 12

For its 30th anniversary, Thermwood introduced an all new LSAM machine model that offers multiple choices for large scale additive manufacturing applications. Ideal for a variety of exciting new applications, the manufacturer recently 3D-printed some sections from a 51-foot long yacht hull mold, demonstrating that a single hull mold is enough to build large vessels.


During its anniversary celebration, Thermwood 3D-printed one of twenty similar parts which when combined become a production mold for a large yacht hull. The 10-foot section (which is the result of two combined sections) was made of carbon fiber reinforced ABS thermoplastic, chosen because of its physical properties and relatively low cost.


The design for the hull was completely thought for additive manufacturing, with sections measuring up to five foot tall. These printed sections are then bound together both chemically and mechanically using high strength polymer cables into two mold halves. The two mold halves then bolt together to form a complete female mold for the yacht hull.


There are several interesting aspects to this design. First, each mold section has a molded in rocker. When the mold is fully assembled, it rests on the floor on these rockers. At this point, the mold can be rolled over to tilt about 45 degrees to either side, kind of like a giant rocking chair. This allows for easier access during the layup process. Set of molded wedges are clamped to the rockers to hold the mold in the desired position. Once the hull has been laid up and fully cured, the mold is rolled to level and the printed wedges are clamped to both sides, holding them level. Then the two mold sides can be un-bolted and slid apart to release the finished boat hull.

‘This demonstration shows that, if you need a really large part, you don’t necessarily need a really large machine,’ comments Thermwood. ‘With a little imagination and some creative engineering, really large structures can be made, even on smaller, lower cost additive manufacturing systems. While the LSAM MT is not all that small, it does fit the needs of a lot of companies who would like to make larger parts but can’t quite handle Thermwood’s really large systems.’

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DESIGNBOOM BY JULIANA NEIRA ON NOVEMBER 8, 2020.