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Transmission housings for large ships are always unique, which is why they require expensive customized molds. This is not the case with 3D printing, which offers even more advantages: it allows the weight of the customized parts to be reduced while saving material, since the printing process also makes other designs possible. Cavities or honeycomb structures can, for example, be incorporated.

In a joint research project, ship transmission manufacturer Reintjes GmbH , Eilhauer Maschinenbau GmbH , TEWISS – Technik und Wissen GmbH , the Hanover Laser Center (LZH) and the IPH – Hanover Institute of Integrated Production are developing a 3D printer that manufactures steel parts weighing tons in a pressure chamber the size of a freight container. The printing process uses laser-assisted arc welding and quality assurance uses inline measuring technology. Considerable savings are expected thanks to additive manufacturing: whereas the steel transmission housing produced by the 3D printer should weigh a maximum of 10 tons, if casting were used it would weigh 13 tons.