Production of new critical metal 3D printed components deepens Wärtsilä’s 3D Printing expertise in marine applications  

As Wärtsilä has built up expertise in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, it was quite natural to see the Finnish company to venture deep into additive manufacturing for marine applications.

First time we heard about the company, it had 3D printed a composite lifting tool for its engines by using Markforged additive manufacturing technology. Following the success in the production of this composite lifting tool, the research engineers at the Wärtsilä Hub for Additive Manufacturing (WHAM) partnered with global engineering firm Etteplan to test a 3D printed metal component designed for its engines.  Both companies are part of the “Finnish Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem (FAME)”, a new industrial ecosystem focusing on bringing together Finnish players in the 3D printing field.

We were confident enough to put the part in the engine and the results spoke for themselves – the engine always tells the truth,” smiles Andreas Hjort, General Manager, Smart Design.  “The design freedom of 3D printing is opening up a number of opportunities to add value, in terms of both new products and improving the performance of existing ones.”

This project has proved the power of network thinking and an ecosystem approach,” explains Giuseppe Saragò, Director in STH Manufacturing Excellence at Wärtsilä. ”Resources from different countries, 3D printer assets in our network (EOS in Finland, AMEXCI in Sweden and Additive FVG in Italy) and partners like Etteplan all had different roles and involvement at various stages of the journey, but we were all committed to the final goal. Transparency has been crucial and partnering with a network has enabled us to make quantum leaps in leveraging 3D printing. This work has also triggered some interesting and innovative new R&D projects that will once again benefit from our network, connecting several universities in Europe, partners like Etteplan and our internal resources so that expertise is shared both within our company and at an ecosystem level.”

Today, the Wärtsilä Hub for Additive Manufacturing (WHAM) features plastic, carbon and metal printers in its facilities and they’re available to anyone in the company that can make use of them WHAM has also opened room for more collaborations with local universities through the launch of a regional ecosystem. Its ultimate goal is to make Vaasa, where the majority of Wärtsilä’s engine design takes place, a world-class 3D printing centre, combining the skills of the industry with new academic excellence.

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