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KUKA robots are revolutionizing boatbuilding: MAMBO is the first boat to come out of a 3D printer

Strikingly blue and lightweight: these are the characteristics of MAMBO – the first fiberglass boat to be produced entirely by KR QUANTEC robots by means of 3D printing. The Italian startup company Moi Composites is thus setting new standards in boatbuilding – in order to be unique.

December 17, 2020

6.5 meters long, 2.5 meters wide and weighing just 800 kilograms: the “Motor Additive Manufacturing Boat”, or MAMBO for short, is the world’s first boat from a 3D printer to be built using KUKA robots and finished by an expert hand. The idea came from the Italian startup Moi Composites, which collaborated with leading experts from the automation sector, such as Autodesk UK, and the boatbuilding industry during the realization of the project.
The MAMBO boat, manufactured by the KR QUANTEC.

Automated 3D printing in boatbuilding

At Autodesk’s advanced production facility in Birmingham, the first 50 percent of the boat, for example parts of the hull, were produced using KUKA robots. At the same time, a KR QUANTEC from KUKA printed the second half in Milan. Final assembly of the MAMBO was carried out in a shipyard there. For this, the individual components were joined and coated in order to create a one-piece sandwich structure without hull-deck division. The makers want to use the different locations to demonstrate one of the strengths of 3D printing with industrial robots: flexible on-site manufacturing. This process was cloud-based, enabling the team from Moi Composites to monitor progress at all times.
The KR QUANTEC plays a key role in building the boat with a 3D printer. 

The fiberglass boat is revolutionizing design in boatbuilding

The startup unveiled MAMBO to the world at the “Boat Show” in Genoa at the beginning of October 2020, where it impressed visitors with its design: side elements reminiscent of waves and a fin-like form that becomes more accentuated towards the stern. Gabriele Natale and Michele Tonizzo, co-founders of Moi Composites, want to use innovative 3D printing with industrial robots to encourage traditional boat builders to exploit the advantages of automation. This not only saves time and materials, but also opens up new, unprecedented design possibilities – such as the uniquely-shaped hull of the MAMBO fiberglass boat. Traditional boatbuilding is not nearly as flexible as 3D printing: robots have the freedom and precision to produce any conceivable geometric form that could not be realized by other means.

Layer by layer, the boat emerges from the 3D printer

The Italian startup Moi Composites impressively demonstrates how 3D printing with industrial robots functions.

With the aid of KUKA, the fiberglass boat takes shape

All individual components of MAMBO are made of glass fibers, printed in 3D using the Continuous Fiber Manufacturing (CFM) process patented by Moi Composites. This innovative 3D printing process starts as a three-dimensional model that is processed by software and implemented using robots such as the KR QUANTEC. In this way, the KR QUANTEC can process continuous fibers that are impregnated with thermosetting resin.

CFM not only saves unnecessary weight but also enables a core to be printed that increases the stability of the boat. The technology offers further advantages, too: real-time curing without the need for specific molds. This reduces costs and lowers the profit threshold for companies even in the case of small – or even varying – batches.

Layer by layer, the KR QUANTEC from KUKA prints the hull of the MAMBO fiberglass boat.

“We have 3D printed a boat to give everyone the opportunity to experience the sea in their own way. Moi is broadening the spectrum of design possibilities by creating a one-of-a-kind boat in accordance with the owner’s wishes.”

Gabriele Natale, CEO and co-founder of Moi Composites