May 12, 2016 | By Tess

A team of engineering students from the University of Warwick in the UK will be debuting their functional 3D printed submarine at the European International Submarine Races in Gosport, England this July. The 3D printed submarine, called the Godiva 2, is being heralded as the “most 3D printed vessel on the grid”.

The quite sleek looking submarine, which was additively manufactured using a Stratasys Fortus 3D Printer as well as Stratasys 3D printing service, features a number of 3D printed parts, including its fins, its propeller shroud and blades, internal steering components and various fixings and housings in the submarine’s design. The design team, which was led by student Josh Dobson, explains that 3D printing technologies were a crucial part of having their design ready in time for the upcoming races, all while staying within a strict budget. Like with many other innovative projects we’ve written about, 3D printing offered the engineering students a viable and effective way of producing their product both in a time and cost efficient manner.

As Dobson says, “Our extensive use of 3D printing remains one of our strengths. Our Stratasys Fortus 3D Printer is very much at the heart of our design and manufacturing process, providing significant benefits that simply could not be achieved via traditional methods. Using this technology, we were able to 3D print final parts for the submarine 90% faster than using conventional manufacturing and also saved £2,000-£3,000 in manufacturing costs. These are parts that can perform in the harshest waters, which is incredible given the speed and cost at which they can be produced.”

The submarine design is part of an academic project geared towards final year engineering Masters’ students. This year marks the fourth consecutive year of the submarine design project, where the students are instructed to make a human-powered sub to compete against other universities at the European International Submarine Races. At last year’s races, the Warwick team took home the innovation prize for its inventive use of 3D printing in the prototyping of the design. This year, not only did the students use 3D printing for their prototype design, but they used 3D printed parts for the final product.

Part of what allowed them to do this was the advancement of 3D printing materials. As Dobson explains, “The material development over the last few years at Stratasys has been integral to the evolution of 3D printing from beyond solely a prototyping tool right through to where we are today; 3D printing parts for direct use on our submarine. All the parts were produced from ABS-M30, apart from the propeller blades which were 3D printed by Stratasys in the USA.”

The team of students, who go by the name of WarwickSub, come from a variety of engineering backgrounds such as mechanical and manufacturing engineering. According to them, having access to 3D printing has afforded them both the design freedom and manufacturing flexibility necessary to create their innovative submarine.

“For example,” says Dobson. “Our fixing feet are an incredibly complex piece of geometry and have been 3D printed to perfectly fit the hull at virtually no additional cost, yet remain as functional and strong as a traditionally manufactured part. In addition, by creating the part using 3D printing, we’ve reduced material wastage by about 75% compared to machining the part traditionally from a solid piece of metal, which bodes well for a future of more sustainable manufacturing.”

The students are not the only ones excited about their 3D printed submarine design as Stratasys’ General Manager of Global Education Sig Behrens has congratulated them on their innovation. He says, “The Warwick Submarine team is a credit to their university which exemplifies the exciting future of British engineering. We are seeing rapid growth in the number of applications that disrupt traditional manufacturing processes to increase speed and reduce costs leveraging our Fortus line for final part production. It’s an exciting future – and for the engineers of tomorrow – it is critical that they learn this technology now as much as possible, as the demand for 3D printing design skills becoming increasingly common.”

We’ll be sure to check back in July to see how the 3D printed submarine fares at the European International Submarine Races.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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