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World’s first 3D printed pressure hulls for humans

By September 10, 2023No Comments

We are excited to announce that our partner DEEP is emerging from stealth with the project of a subsea station that will revolutionize access to and understanding of our planet’s oceans. Scalable, modular, and autonomous, the DEEP Sentinel system will be built using primarily Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing with MaxQ Monitoring & Control technology developed by RAMLAB. It has been designed for deployments up to 200m below the surface. This radically opens up access to the world’s continental shelves and the entirety of the Epipelagic Zone (sunlight zone), home to over 90% of marine life. To study, understand, and preserve Earth’s most important biome we must first be able to access it, and DEEP exists to develop technology for exactly that purpose.

The DEEP System comprises Sentinel the underwater habitat, and a revolutionary range of submersibles, dive and scientific research equipment. All backed up by technical and human performance training and qualification programs (DEEP Institute), and a unique underwater R&D test and operations facility (DEEP Campus).

World’s first 3D printed pressure hulls for humans
The Sentinel will be globally classed by DNV, the world’s leading classification society for underwater technology and will allow scientists to live underwater at depths of up to 200 metres for up to 28 days at a time. This will give extended access to most of the world’s continental shelves and importantly being able to descend to 200 meters allows access to the entirety of the Epipelagic, or “sunlight”, zone. The lower limit of the Epipelagic zone is the deepest point at which sunlight penetrates into the ocean and it’s estimated that 90% of marine life is found in this zone. Being able to comprehensively explore the full extent of this part of the ocean rather than just performing incursions from the surface, will represent a step-change in the way scientists can observe, monitor, and understand the oceans.

WAAM was selected by DEEP as the preferred manufacturing method for Sentinel pressure hulls due to its high deposition rates, scalability, and support for various metal feedstock materials. The company has invested in a significant number of MaxQ 3D Print systems, consisting out of Valk Welding robots and RAMLAB’s monitoring & control software and sensors suite. These can be used individually to produce parts across a wide range of materials and geometries. However, in order to produce the large segments comprising a Sentinel pressure hull, DEEP is undergoing an ambitious technology development program with RAMLAB to develop a multi-arm collaborative WAAM. This will see six individual WAAM systems arranged in a hexagonal configuration, working synchronously to produce 30T+ hull segments at world-leading deposition rates.

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