Published On: Thu, Nov 26th, 2015

What’s In Store For The Boat Industry’s Future?

Human beings have been using boats since long before records began. And, over the years, the principles of traveling on water have stayed remarkably similar. Sure, engine and propeller development have come on in leaps and bounds.

Boating

But, in essence, boating is much the same as it was when it was an ancient technology. All those thousands of years ago when our ancestors decided to get across a river or sea.

That said, there is some impressive technology coming our way from the boating industry. Let’s take a closer look at some of the technology driving the changes.

3D Printing

3D printers have been around for some time, but it is only now that we are beginning to hear about its excellent capabilities. According to a recent speech at METS 2015, some of that potential will have enormous implications for the boating industry. Airbus Industries manager Peter Sanders sees the potential of 3D as ‘massive’ for the industry.

And work is already underway. A few months ago, the MakerBot 3D Printer was the star of the show at the 3D Print Week in New York. It’s task, was to create a full-size boat motor while people were milling around on the trade show floor. It took 250 hours to complete, and it wasn’t a working engine, but it did the job.

Who knows where this could lead? With the boating industry usually tied to coastal areas, it could see a complete change in the landscape. Designers could create new ships from anywhere in the country for fewer costs. And, all they would have to worry about is boat transport to its destination. And, of course, those designs will be easily shared online to anywhere else in the world.

Eco-friendly boats

There are plenty of eco-friendly boats out there in the world – the ones without motors, for example. But power boats are also starting to embrace the change. The most prominent in recent months is the Intrepid. It’s a 32-foot fishing vessel that uses natural gas to power its engines, which reduces fuel costs by half. Handy for hard-pressed fishermen struggling to make ends meet, that’s for sure.

But commercial boating is also benefitting from a desire to go green. Norwegian boat company Norland recently set off the world’s first electric-powered ferry. Fuel costs on the Ampere are down by 60% on the short trip passenger ferry, and there are no emissions to deal with. The ferry is also phenomenally quiet and makes around 34 trips every day.

Although it is only a short trip ferry, it bodes well for the future. Could we see longer trips powered by electrics? Or maybe a combination of electric and sea power? That all remains to be seen. But, at least there are companies out there that are doing their bit for the environment. It’s good to see a change in what has always been a wasteful industry with regards to natural resources.

So, some interesting developments in the boating industry, that we will no doubt see more of in the future. With all this talk of cheaper costs and zero emissions, perhaps we still have more in common with our ancestors than any of us thought.

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