Horizon Introduces 3D Printing Technology Into the Yacht Building Process
Horizon clients can now experience real-time yacht model development and optimization.
Following on its commitment to continuous innovation and investment in new technology, Horizon Group has incorporated Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing into its manufacturing process. Introduced in tandem with the company’s recent $15M facilities expansion and PaR Systems 5-Axis CNC Machine upgrade, the new SLA 3D printing facility is intended to create scale models of a client’s yacht, as well as custom seating areas, storage and deck sections for individual yachts in build.
Stereolithography is known for its ability to produce precise isotropic prototypes and end-use parts in a range of advanced materials with fine detailed features and a smooth surface finish. SLA 3D printers expose light-reactive thermoset materials or “resins” to various wavelengths of light, which forms short molecular chains that are polymerized into solidified rigid or flexible geometries.
The introduction of SLA 3D printing is an important step in Horizon’s design and yacht building process, which is based upon a strong collaboration between designer, builder and client. Each Horizon yacht build allows for a broad scope of customization, so having the ability to create a perfect scale model of a new yacht’s design allows Horizon’s design and engineering teams to accurately evaluate the overall space and workability of a concept. With SLA 3D printing, a scale prototype can be completed in just three days, which expedites the design – and build – process and streamlines costs and efficiencies tremendously.
“By utilizing 3D printing, we are able to shorten the design discussion period considerably,” says Horizon’s Tooling Center Supervisor Andy Tsai. “When our clients can hold and feel a scale model of their new yacht, they are able to comprehend the design, flow and functionality much better than what we can see from a GA or rendering. Our design and engineering teams can then be innovative and optimize the yacht’s design, and overall we have more flexibility to modify the model and spare parts.”
At Horizon Yachts, design and product development is a “hands on” process. The 3D printing provides a real-time design that can be assessed for proportional relationships, lines, practical spaces and overall style. In addition to the scale models and the build-out of small custom parts, the 3D printing technology is currently being used for exterior areas of a yacht, such as the hull, superstructure and deck sections. In the future, Horizon plans to use this process to aid in the design of shaft struts and engineering parts, which will help standardize the parts production and engineering designs.
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