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KUKA robot prints world’s first 3D sailboat

Together with NextChem, KUKA system partner Caracol has developed the world’s first prototype of a 3D-printed sailboat as part of a research project. “Beluga” was printed in a single pass by a KR QUANTEC.

9 noiembrie 2021

Pushing back the boundaries of industrial 3D printing

Printing complex geometric shapes and meter-high components – that was something that was hardly possible until now. The robot-based additive manufacturing technology from Caracol is now pushing back the existing boundaries of industrial 3D printing. And so it was that the sailboat “Beluga” was brought to life.

Caracol works with a total of four KUKA robots. The KR QUANTEC robotsequipped with a patented extruder head for 3D printing, stand out particularly for their flexibility. The system allows greater geometrical freedom in order to be able to process even more complex components from a wide range of materials. At the same time, the system offers advantages in terms of costs, sustainability, production lead time and performance compared to traditional solutions.

Caracol – the 3D-printed sailboat Beluga

Environmentally friendly 3D printing with the KR QUANTEC

Conventional methods for the production of sailboats generally require molds and use materials that are difficult to recycle, such as glass fibers. With the robot-based system from KUKA partner Caracol, it was possible to print the hull of the sailboat in a single piece using MyReplast™ pellets. This method allows waste to be reduced and reused. The MyReplast™ material, obtained from waste upcycling processes, is an example of how recycled polymers can be used successfully to produce advanced components with high performance requirements.

Thanks to this technology, we are overcoming the size constraints of industrial 3D printers with lower operating costs compared to conventional solutions and other options on the market.

Violetta Nespolo, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Caracol

“Beluga” brought to life – in just forty hours

The project began in May 2021 with the selection of materials, the application and the design of “Beluga”. The boat was printed in Lomazzo, Italy, within only forty hours. The smooth surface was created manually in post-production. In August, two athletes from the Santo Stefano Yacht Club successfully sailed with “Beluga” on a lake in Tuscany and confirmed her seaworthiness. From there, she was taken to the Milan Design Week, where Caracol presents the most innovative projects every year. “Beluga” met with an enthusiastic reception and was included in the shortlist for the Boat Builder Award in the environmental initiative category.
The 3D-printed sailboat “Beluga” takes to the water. ©Caracol

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