© Ben Bibikov

There’s been a lot of talk about how 3D printing could fundamentally alter global supply chains, but new analysis from the Dutch Nautical Institute of Shipping and Shipbuilding argues that the first effects will be felt most heavily in the shipbuilding industry, with scores of vessels already equipped with 3D printers to reproduce spare parts while at sea. But the institute expects that ships themselves will be partly 3D printed in the near future and said the scene was ripe for radical innovation. “With a completely different approach to design and building, many parts of a ship can be 3D-printed. Digitalisation, robotisation and 3D printing will successfully join forces here.”

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