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Pioneering 3D printing innovation for floating offshore wind 

Expert support from Marine-i is helping 3D printing specialist J-Supplied to develop large scale technology to produce bespoke parts for the floating offshore wind industry, such as custom-designed turbine blades.

Based in Launceston, Cornwall, J-Supplied are distributors of 3D printing machines and manufacturers of 3D-printed products. They also provide consultancy services and training to businesses who want to exploit the full potential of 3D printing processes. 

J-Supplied are establishing themselves as a cost effective 3D printing fast response solution for high value spare parts and are experiencing growth from this expanding sector.

The emergence of floating offshore wind as a major strategic opportunity for the marine tech industry in south west England has prompted the company to diversify into this area.

The Managing Director of J-Supplied, Martin Jewell, explains:

“The ability to print large scale, low volume products is currently restricted by the commercially available equipment on the market. Typically, these can only manufacture products up to a 3m x 1m footprint. We identified the offshore renewable energy sector as the focus for a major innovation project to address this issue. 

“Our vision is to have ‘warehouse size’ gantries that would enable a 5 axis robotic 3D Printer to produce very large products, such as turbine blades. This would break completely new ground for our industry.”

Marine-i, is providing a comprehensive package of RD&I support which includes market analysis by Marine-i partner, ORE Catapult, highlighting the most important commercial opportunities for the technology in floating offshore wind. Bespoke research will be carried out by the University of Plymouth Digital Fabrication Laboratory, to develop processes to optimise this new technology.   

Additive manufacturing of turbine blades offers many potential advantages, including higher throughput, reduced lead times, easier migration from design to part, and the ability to make mid-stream changes on-the-fly. It also offers greater design freedom, especially with multi-axis robot systems of the type that J-Supplied are developing.

Professor Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says:

“J-Supplied should be applauded for the scale and ambition of their thinking. As well as being a major commercial opportunity for their business, this new process would have huge benefits for the global floating offshore wind industry.”  

[Photo credit: Principle Power Inc.]