An ecological dock fender, printed in 3D

3D printing of a quay fender is being carried out within the SeaBioComp project

The European SeaBioComp project has revealed a first success: the 3D printing of a dock fender profile using environmentally friendly materials.

A dock fender in 3D printing

SeaBioComp presented an innovative dock fender at the end of April 2020. The profile was entirely manufactured using a 3D printer by the Dutch company Poly Products, a specialist in composite materials, in partnership with the marine equipment company Klerk Waterbouw. This achievement is part of the European collaborative project SeaBioComp, which brings together 11 English, French, Dutch and Belgian partners around the development and manufacture of sustainable composite product demonstrators in biomaterials for the marine environment. After successful tests, a full-scale element should be rapidly tested in situ on a quay by Klerk Waterbouw.

A sustainable material for the port world

Thanks to European funding, the partners were able to adapt the 3D printer to the use of a biopolymer, focusing in particular on temperature control, natural fibre selection and tool corrosion. The new profile could replace tropical hardwood or synthetic plastic fenders, limiting the ecological impact and material waste. "By using our 3D printing method, products can be produced directly without a mould. This saves material and time. In addition, there is no loss of material during production as no milling or machining is required. We print biopolymers based on starch (TPS) and polylactic acid (PLA) on our machines in order to prove that sustainable products can be made for marine applications," says Albert ten Busschen from Poly Products.

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