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Tahoe Boats last design uses Thermwood 3D printed tooling

News International-French

14 Jan 2019

Tahoe Boats, Springfield, MO. formally announced the T16 boat design, engineered with families in mind. Using innovative technology, the T16 delivers a lightweight design and affordability with an uncompromising commitment to quality and performance.

Tahoe Boats last design uses Thermwood 3D printed tooling

Tahoe Boats last design uses Thermwood 3D printed tooling

One factor that made this boat possible is that the T16 was designed and built in the U.S. leveraging innovative techniques never before used in the marine industry. White River Marine Group, the marine manufacturing arm of Bass Pro Shops, worked with Thermwood, utilizing Thermwood’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system to custom-print the tool used to manufacture the boat’s hull – the first time 3D printing has been used on actual boat production at this scale. This boat-building advancement led to greater efficiency in the planning, design and construction of the T16.

Thermwood printed the master pattern for the boat hull at its Development/Demonstration Labs is Dale, Indiana. The pattern was printed in six sections from 20% carbon fiber filled ABS supplied by Techmer PM, who was an active partner in the program. The joints between the pieces were machined, pinned and bonded together and the assembled hull machined to final size and shape. The entire process required only ten days to complete.

Tahoe Boat - Thermwood’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing

After printing and machining, the tool was sent to White River where they applied, sanded and polished a proprietary coating, which they developed earlier, using previously printed parts supplied by Thermwood.

Prior to this public introduction, Thermwood was able to use images and videos of the process, which have been on their web site for some time now, however, they respected a request not to disclose the participants or final use of the tool until the boat was publicly released by White River Marine Group.

An interesting note is that this type of tool can be produced in even less time with current technology. Using Thermwood’s Vertical Layer Printing, which wasn’t available at the time this tool was made, this type of pattern can now be printed as one piece in just over two days, eliminating the machining between sections and the bonding process. This should cut build time almost in half.

Tahoe Boat - Thermwood’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing

“Additive manufacturing has the potential to dramatically change the way boats are built” says Thermwood’s founder, Chairman and CEO, Ken Susnjara. 

Master patterns, such as this, are used to make molds for high production rates where multiple molds are required. For larger boats or lower production rates, it may be possible to print the mold itself rather than a pattern from which multiple molds are made. Thermwood has also been working on this approach and has recently announced the successful production of a seven foot long, 1/7 scale model of a yacht hull mold using Vertical Layer Printing. Work continues in both these areas.

Even at this early stage of development it is apparent that large scale additive manufacturing could have a dramatic, perhaps even a transformational impact on production methods used in the marine industry, significantly reducing tooling cost and dramatically speeding up the tool building process.