This innovative yacht, called the Mini 650, is the ambitious
project of two Italian boat builders, Francesco Belvisi and
Daniele Cevola. They are building it for the 2019 solo
transatlantic yacht race, called the Mini-Transat, which
starts in France and ends in Brazil. The actual construction
of the craft is a joint effort between the LEHVOSS Group,
a vendor of high-performance materials and compounds,
and Livrea Yacht, a noted Italian boat builder. Livrea Yacht
performs all simulation and evaluation work for the project,
which is supported by engineers experienced in America’s
Cup and Volvo Ocean Race.
The project, which began in 2014, grew out of Livera’s
search for new and optimized boat structures that could
overcome the limitations of conventional manufacturing
processes. Their head researcher, Alessandro Buscemi,
an expert numerical modelling, discovered some civil
engineering studies on the fractal behavior of soil that he
felt could be applied to large 3D printed structures.
Fractals are hierarchical structures that are very common
in nature. The math that defines them is usually a simple,
computationally light algorithm, but it can be used to
generate complex and efficient human-made structures.
Buscemi realized that fractals’ inherent simplicity offered a
big advantage, both for generating files to print the parts,
and for simplifying the models used predict structural and
thermal properties of the object. This led to a preliminary
study they conducted as with Autodesk on creating fractal-
based structural elements for boats.
Although what they learned about 3D printed structures
freed designers from many of the limitations imposed by
conventional manufacturing techniques, it quickly became
apparent that the project would also require the development
of new tools, materials, and design techniques.
A Smart Design Starts With Smart Materials
One of the team’s first tasks was to develop a palette of
3D printing thermoplastics and other materials that would
enable the fabrication of advanced structural components
capable of surviving the rigors of the marine environment.
The customized 3D printing materials engineered
and supplied by LEHVOSS Group are based on high
performance thermoplastic polymers, such as and PEEK.
“To achieve the required mechanical properties, these
polymers are reinforced with carbon fibers,” said Thiago
Medeiros Araujo, LUVOCOM 3F Market Development
Manager for LEHVOSS Group. “In addition, they are
modified to yield an improved layer strength with no
warping of the printed parts. This results in parts that
By Lee H Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief
The ocean has challenged the ingenuity of humans ince our ancestors first pushed hollowed-out
logs into the surf and attempted to navigate its
beautiful but unforgiving environment. Since then,
the demand for ever-greater speeds, capacities, and
efficiencies has stimulated the development of new
materials and manufacturing technologies. Recently, a
new breakthrough emerged from the dangerous world
of open water racing in the form of the world’s first
competition sailboat, manufactured almost entirely
using 3D printing technology.
New materials, structures, and
manufacturing techniques make an
“impossible” 3D printed boat a reality