Tahoe Boats Collaborates with Thermwood on 3D Printing for Boat Design

Thermwood assisted the building of Tahoe Boats’ T16 boat design, using its Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system to custom print necessary tools and patterns. This is the first time 3D printing has been used on an actual boat production at this scale, according to the company.
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Tahoe Boats has collaborated with Thermwood on 3D-printed tools integral to the creation of its lightweight T16 boat design. White River Marine Group, the marine manufacturing arm of Bass Pro Shops, worked with Thermwood and used the company’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system to custom print the tool used to manufacture the boat’s hull—the first time 3D printing has been used on boat production at this scale, according to Thermwood. The use of 3D printing contributed to greater efficiency in the planning, design and construction of the T16.

Thermwood printed the master pattern for the boat hull at its development/demonstration labs in Dale, Indiana. The pattern was printed in six sections from 20 percent carbon fiber-filled ABS supplied by Techmer PM, an active partner in the collaboration. The joints between the pieces were machined, pinned and bonded together, and the assembled hull was machined to final size and shape. The entire process required only 10 days to complete.

After printing and machining, the tool was sent to White River for coating, sanding and polished. The proprietary coating was developed using previously printed parts supplied by Thermwood.

Thermwood says that its Vertical Layer Printing, which wasn’t available at the time this tool was made, now makes it possible to print this type of pattern as one piece in just over two days, eliminating the machining between sections and the bonding process. This updated process is expected to cut build time almost in half.

Even at this early stage of development it is said that large scale additive manufacturing could have an impact on production methods used in the marine industry by reducing tooling costs and speeding up the tool building process.

“Additive manufacturing has the potential to dramatically change the way boats are built,” says Ken Susnjara, Thermwood’s chairman and CEO.