Key Technologies that can Change the Future of Shipbuilding

Robots were initially designed for the welding process in shipyards, but inspection and pipe cleaning robots have also emerged. The most intriguing is the spider robot, which crawls autonomously over the surface of the vessel and prepares it for painting by blasting off the rust and other contaminants.

Fremont, CA: Technology advancement is critical to the growth of any industry. The shipbuilding industry is no different. Indeed, shipbuilding is evolving at a rapid pace, taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies aimed at addressing issues such as environmental pollution, increasing fuel costs, and so on.

The shipping industry has developed some potentially revolutionary technologies while riding high on R&D activities. Here are some important technologies that may help to change the future of shipbuilding.

3-D Printing Technology: 3D printing technology allows for the creation of physical objects from virtual 3-D models. This is accomplished by slicing a virtual object into 2-D slices and printing the real one slice by slice. Several 3-D printing processes have been developed to date, but only a few are commercially affordable and sustainable. This technology is presently being used in industries to produce scientific equipment, small structures, as well as models for a variety of applications.

Shipbuilding Robotics: Recent trends indicate that the shipbuilding industry is recognizing robotics as an efficiency driver as well as a method to prevent workers from performing dangerous tasks such as welding. One of the reasons to consider robotics is the scarcity of skilled labor. In shipyards, robots can perform welding, painting, heavy lifting, blasting, and other tasks.

Robots were initially designed for the welding process in shipyards, but inspection and pipe cleaning robots have also emerged. The most intriguing is the spider robot, which crawls autonomously over the surface of the vessel and prepares it for painting by blasting off the rust and other contaminants. The 'Iron Man' wearable robot is also in the running, and it can boost workers' strength and stamina. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) plans to use robotics in shipbuilding after developing mini welding robots. These trends strongly suggest that shipyards will be smart and digital in the future.

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