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MAMBO is the first boat to come out of a 3D printer

13 January 2021

The “Motor Additive Manufacturing Boat” (MAMBO) is the first fibreglass boat to be produced entirely by KUKA’s KR QUANTEC robots by means of 3D printing.

6.5 metres long, 2.5 metres wide and weighing just 800 kilograms, MAMBO is the world’s first boat from a 3D printer to be built using KUKA robots and finished by an expert hand. The idea came from the Italian start up Moi Composites, which collaborated with leading experts from the automation sector, such as Autodesk UK.

Automated 3D printing in boatbuilding

At Autodesk’s advanced production facility in Birmingham, the first 50 percent of the boat were produced using KUKA robots. At the same time, a KR QUANTEC from KUKA printed the second half in Milan. Final assembly of the MAMBO was carried out in a shipyard there. For this, the individual components were joined and coated in order to create a one-piece sandwich structure without hull-deck division. The makers want to use the different locations to demonstrate one of the strengths of 3D printing with industrial robots: flexible on-site manufacturing. This process was cloud-based, enabling the team from Moi Composites to monitor progress at all times.

Layer by layer, the KR QUANTEC from KUKA prints the hull of the MAMBO fibreglass boat.
Layer by layer, the KR QUANTEC from KUKA prints the hull of the MAMBO fibreglass boat.

The fibreglass boat is revolutionising design in boatbuilding

Gabriele Natale and Michele Tonizzo, Co-Founders of Moi Composites, want to use innovative 3D printing with industrial robots to encourage traditional boat builders to exploit the advantages of automation. This not only saves time and materials, but also opens up new, unprecedented design possibilities – such as the uniquely-shaped hull of the MAMBO fibreglass boat. Traditional boatbuilding is not nearly as flexible as 3D printing – robots have the freedom and precision to produce any conceivable geometric form that could not be realised by other means.

With the aid of KUKA, the fibreglass boat takes shape

All individual components of MAMBO are made of glass fibres, printed in 3D using the Continuous Fibre Manufacturing (CFM) process patented by Moi Composites. This innovative 3D printing process starts as a three-dimensional model that is processed by software and implemented using robots, such as the KR QUANTEC. In this way, the KR QUANTEC can process continuous fibres that are impregnated with thermosetting resin.

CFM not only saves unnecessary weight but also enables a core to be printed that increases the stability of the boat. The technology offers further advantages, too – real-time curing without the need for specific moulds. This reduces costs and lowers the profit threshold for companies even in the case of small – or even varying – batches.

Video courtesy of Autodesk Deutschland

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