Energy and resource-efficient manufacturing of large-scale products using additive manufacturing for the example of ship gearboxes

Theme XXL products, Additive Manufacturing
Project title Energy and resource-efficient manufacturing of large-scale products using additive manufacturing for the example of ship gearboxes (XXL3DDruck)
Project duration 01.01.2019 – 31.03.2023
Press release

The manufacture of large-scale products with a unique character is usually energy- and resource-intensive due to the large dimensions and weights that have to be handled, an oversized design and high specific energy requirements of the manufacturing processes used.

In the XXL3DDruck project, the energy- and resource-saving production of large-scaled components is being tested using the example of a ship gearbox housing using additive manufacturing. Individual parts up to a mass of 9 tons are "printed" by laser deposition welding in an oversized "3D printer".

Some manufacturing principles, such as the casting process for ship gearbox housings, require additional resources in the form of model construction. The necessary process energy requirement to produce a large-scale part (ship gearbox housing) shall be reduced by at least 20% with the aid of an additive manufacturing process. Further savings will result from the reduced overall use of materials. In addition, the ship gear manufacturer has the opportunity to develop new and individual designs for the housings, which can nevertheless be realized with a significantly reduced material but are still resilient.

In the XXL3DDruck project, IPH is developing an inline measurement technology for monitoring the process. This allows corrections to the settings of the process and the component automatically during the manufacturing process.

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  • 15.12.2020
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Publications about the project

Additive manufacturing allows components to be manufactured flexibly. This manufacturing process is particularly suitable for products with a unique character. In the production of large components, which have previously been manufactured by casting, this offers the advantages of greater flexibility in design and the elimination of the need to build molds that are only used once for unique items. To manufacture large components additively, a consortium of five companies is developing a new 3D printer for XXL products. For quality assurance, IPH - Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover has implemented two monitoring systems. These capture the geometry using three laser line scanners and regulate the manufacturing process during printing using two different software systems.

XXL products, large components, additive manufacturing, 3D printing, quality control

3D printing of large mechanical engineering components with a unique character, such as ship gearbox housings, has great development potential as so-called additive manufacturing. As an alternative to casting with complex mold construction, additive manufacturing of such large products offers significantly greater design freedom. To this end, a consortium of research institutes and companies from Hanover, Langenhagen and Hamelin is jointly developing an XXL 3D printer with an installation space of 4.5 m * 3 m * 1.4 m. The printer will be used for the production of large parts.

Additive Manufacturing, 3D printing, XXL-products, Production of unique pieces, quality control


The project no. 03ET1644C was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and coordinated by Project Management Jülich (PTJ).

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