From the Editor: Printing Spare Parts

Image via Wilhelmsen.

Could 3D printing spare parts soon become commonplace in the maritime shipping industry? There’s a very interesting story recently published by Forbes magazine that indicates that it might be.

According to the article, marine industry supply chain and distribution company Thyssenkrupp Materials Services has “invested substantially” in 3D printing technology and has been using it to manufacture critical spare parts faster and cheaper than traditional manufacturing.

The company has even dropped 3D-printed parts onto a vessel from a drone, the article states.

A huge leap forward when it comes to 3D printing for the maritime industry came in October, when Thyssenkrupp Materials Services and third-party ship manager Wilhelmsen Ships Service, teamed up to offer the global maritime industry an on-demand digital manufacturing platform for 3D-printed spare parts.

Wilhelmsen, which has said that it aims to further the digital transformation of the maritime industry, especially for spare parts, said that it chose to partner with Thyssenkrupp for its engineering expertise in industrial 3D printing.

Together, the two billion-dollar, hundred-plus-year-old multinational companies have developed a platform called Pelagus 3D that they say can “deliver maritime spare parts more efficiently in terms of time and cost, allowing customers to ensure their vessels’ seaworthiness and keep their operations moving on schedule.”

Thyssenkrupp and Wilhelmsen have each been 3D printing spare parts for ships and offshore installations for at least five years and have made metal propellers, impellers, gears, and nearly any part that can break, plus “less conspicuous parts” out of engineering polymers, according to Forbes.

“The new venture,” the article states, “opens up this spare part service to more end-users (vessel managers) and vessel part makers (OEMs) with a network of about 60 additive manufacturing service providers onto one digital platform.”

By digitizing and decentralizing part production, the article continues, Pelagus 3D aims to disrupt the entire ecosystems of the maritime and offshore supply chain.

The full article is a must-read if you’re involved in the vessel management or part making industries. It can be accessed online at

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at

By Mark Edward Nero