While I have not seen the use of full digital models in a large steel repair job, the recent installation of Ballast Water Treatment systems and scrubbers has made much more use of digital construction details especially in the planning phase, and these modifications were much more cost effective when a full E/R 3D model was available.
So let’s dig a little deeper, because there are number of technologies that are pretty well established in ship construction that could come into play in ship repair and conversion and may dramatically change the game.
Table 1 shows a list of technologies and my take on their present adoptions.
From an article in MarineLink by Rik van Hemmen.
Table 1: The ‘Cutting Edge’ in Ship Repair
• Full digital construction model
3D CAD is nice, but where digital modeling becomes really valuable is the inclusion of detailed parts information. Shipbuilders are operating at this level, but repair yards rarely are provided with these details.
• Laser scanning
Laser scanning is already being used for dimensional determination and verification by ship repairers, but where laser scanning becomes even more valuable is for confirmation between as designed and as built dimensions. If the model and the as built dimensioning can be tightly integrated the construction as repair or conversion modules can be performed neat.
Drone inspection are still in their infancy and inspections is only the tip of the drone iceberg. Ships are big and staging is expensive. Anything that replaces staging or human climbing saves money in ship repair and conversion.
• 3D plastic printing
3D plastic printing has limited use in commercial ship construction, but should also not be underestimated. Some parts may be reproducible with 3D printing and if new ship parts are 3D printed the repair part can also be 3D printed. Meanwhile 3D printed parts can be invaluable in jigging, patterns or spacers.
• 3D metal printing
3D metal printing is still in its infancy as far as direct application in ship building and repair is concerned, but the promise is spectacular and may be even higher in repair and conversion than new construction. NC cutting and machiningNC cutting is already quite common in ship repair facilities, since even rough and simple NC part cutting saves money, but to cut exact parts from an exact model will introduce an additional huge repair cost saving. (Click here to see related story on 3D printing)
• Automated welding
Various automated welding approaches are already being used by repairers, but closer tolerances in modeling will increase the use of automated welding approaches.
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