In collaboration with RISE the research institute of Sweden, Melker of Sweden has achieved a groundbreaking feat by creating a prototype kayak using advanced 3D printing technology and FibraQ recycled materials. This achievement represents a significant leap forward in sustainable manufacturing.
"A unique example of how advanced biocomposite objects can be effectively turned into new high-value products", says Ting Yang Nilsson, researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and project manager of the BioInnovation project that started it all.
Meeting Market Needs with 3D Printing
In response to market demands in North America, Melker of Sweden urgently needed to develop a shorter and wider kayak model. Through 3D printing, they successfully created a prototype from an end-of-life bio-based kayak in just a few months. This rapid prototyping approach allows for efficient product development and a reduced environmental footprint.
Advancing with Biocomposites and 3D Printing
Melker of Sweden partnered up with RISE using an industrial robot to print the full-sized kayak, cut open hatches, print on hatch rings, drill holes for deck fasteners, and prepare the hull bottom for milling. Exploring the limits of robotic printing and multi-tooling In one constant motion.
"It was the most complex integrated process we’ve done, by far," says Woodrow Wiest, laboratory engineer at RISE Application Center for Additive Manufacturing, and continues:
“Using large-format robots for printing and machining, in one constant motion, is extremely rare. For us it is brand new. We know that there have been robotic mills for a long time, and robotic printing has been around for a few years. But combining the two, that process is quite novel.”
Transforming this concept into a finalized prototype became a joint effort between RISE and Adaxis. Adaxis provided both the expertise and software solution needed for a seamless integration of 3D printing and machining. Biofiber Tech contributed with FibraQ compounds, while ABB's software was utilized to generate the robot's printing program.
Sustainable Materials for a Circular Economy
The recycled kayak is made of plastic from discarded fishing nets from the west coast of Sweden and reinforced with FibraQ, a Biofiber Tech modified wood fiber.
A Look Into the Future
While traditional manufacturing processes are still used, Melker of Sweden aims to shift to 3D printing entirely within the next three to five years. This shift promises not only more efficient production but also increased circularity by reducing transportation and enabling the use of local materials.
Melker of Sweden was established in 2015 by Pelle Stafshede with an ambitious vision to revolutionize the outdoor hardware industry.
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden serves as the research institute and innovation collaborator for Sweden fostering international partnerships with industry, academia and the public sector.
BioInnovation is a strategic innovation initiative supported by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency, and Formas, as part of the collective effort known as Strategic Innovation Areas.
ADAXIS is a robotics software company with roots in both France and Sweden.
ABB takes the lead in electrification and automation technologies, driving forward a future characterized by increased sustainability and resource efficiency..