Marine supplier Wärtsilä 3D prints CE-certified lifting tool with Markforged

Marine and energy supplier Wärtsilä has additively manufactured a CE-certified lifting tool capable of elevating parts up to 960kg with Markforged’s Industrial Series X7 machine.

The company is responsible for manufacturing the engines of a third of the world’s largest cargo ships and is using Markforged 3D printing technology, with four machines deployed across two sites in Finland and Italy, to produce an array of production aids, such as measuring tools and tool holders.

Wärtsilä’s CE-certified lifting tool has undergone a redesign that reduced the weight by 75% compared to the machined component and saw the tool split into several parts in order to best leverage the continuous carbon fibre reinforcement. The tool, used to lift heavy engine parts like pistons, can lift up to 960kg in weight without deformation with a safety factor of four and has endured stringent testing and inspection before being CE-certified. Wärtsilä has also harnessed Markforged technology to produce other tooling components, with cost savings totalling more than €100,000 in just eight months.

By integrating 3D printing technology, Wärtsilä is set to bring the production of tooling in-house, freeing itself of third-party suppliers, and cutting down lead times. As Wärtsilä continues to scale its 3D printing capability – a Markforged Metal X machine has recently been installed – the company is beginning to look beyond tooling applications, with customer-facing production parts now coming in to focus.

In just tooling applications alone, Wärtsilä is able to turnaround parts in days and save an average of €1,000 per tool. The company is also weighing up the potential for additive manufacturing machinery to be installed on ships, so parts can be delivered at the point of need.   

“If we want another tool for production, with a specific customer design, it’s not four to six weeks like it was conventionally, but it’s now really a couple of days. We are able to answer the need and fulfil the need faster,” commented Giuseppe Saragò, Director, Manufacturing Excellence, Wärtsilä.

“We don’t have to work to someone else’s schedule and the beauty of 3D printing is that each design can then be printed anywhere at any time through distributed manufacturing, even on the ships Wärtsilä helps to maintain and service,” added Juho Raukola, Innovation Expert, Additive Manufacturing at Wärtsilä.

“This will enable Wärtsilä to speed up the introduction of new products with faster, cheaper and safer tool creation,” finished Saragò. 

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