Boat made from plastic waste directly from the 3D printer
About Tanaruz Boats
- Founders: Alexey Shifman
- Founded in: 2018
- Employees: 12 (Actually, I never count the number of people in the team’)
- Amounts raised: –
- Ultimate objective: To make the nautical industry more sustainable and accessible to all.
Those who think that pleasure boats are only for the rich are wrong. Tanaruz boats designs and 3D prints boats for a more affordable price. The Rotterdam-based company wants to make boating more accessible and affordable. You can configure the boat yourself via the app. And then a big 3D printer gets to work printing your boat out of plastic waste. And the great thing about it? Boats made by Tanaruz are fully recyclable – after the end of their lifespan they can be used as base material for new boats. Founder Alexey Shifman tells us all about it in today’s Start-up episode.
How did the idea come to you?
“I worked for a large boat design company. Boat building is not an innovative process. Most boats are made of steel or aluminum, it’s real craftsmanship. However, it is not very innovative. Some boats are built layer by layer from a mold, this is also a very fixed process. Also, you’re really dependent on suppliers, that’s something you have to put up with. In the company where I worked at the time, I found all kinds of solutions to build boats differently. With 3D printing, you can build boats faster, cheaper and with less pollution. But the company was extremely reluctant to experiment with this. So when I met my current business partner, we started our own company to develop software ourselves to customize a boat.
What makes your boats so innovative then?
“Normally the design of a boat is pretty much pre-determined. It’s a labor-intensive process where you can’t adjust anything that quickly. If you want to shorten a boat by a meter, you have to adjust everything, from the sketch to the weld.
“It’s the same for a mould, you have to redo everything. You remove all that hurdle when you use 3D printers. Do you want a slightly shorter boat? No problem. All you have to do is enter this data via the software and send it to the printer. For a customer in Croatia, where you are legally required to have a separate license for a boat 4 meters long or more, we have adjusted the length to 3.90 meters. It was done in an hour. So you don’t have to explain anything to welders and builders, everything is done automatically. And the price just stays the same.
How it works?
“Clients can decide how their boat looks, we have a number of standard designs. But we can also provide custom designs on request. Once they are happy with their design, the printer is on the job. work. It’s a huge robotic arm about 14 meters long. We didn’t develop it ourselves. What’s innovative about us is the way we print. We spent four months to find the right calibration for the printer.
Why is it so difficult?
“There are so many different parameters you have to consider in the robotic arm. If you print on paper, you end up with streaks on your sheet every time the ink runs out. But if something doesn’t not set correctly in a 3D printer, the boat will come out like melted ice. Sometimes it happens very early, sometimes only at the very end. You invariably want to know what parameter is responsible; you have to investigate it. How many material comes out? How fast does the robot lay down a new layer? And under what temperatures? All questions must be considered. We know from experience that many things can go wrong. To date, we have succeeded to perfect the printing process; this printing method is now our intellectual property.
What is your biggest challenge?
“In fact, every day is a major challenge. If you solve one problem today, another problem awaits you tomorrow. It’s part and parcel of being a fledgling startup. We had to invent everything ourselves at the beginning. We have a big 3D printer and since it has never been done before, there is no user manual. I just said, ‘Good luck!’ We managed to do it, after that it was just a matter of convincing people that our boats were safe. So there is always something to deal with.
“Once you turn on the printer, you have to wait and see. Sometimes it takes up to 100 hours which is a long and stressful wait I can tell you. It was frustrating, especially at the beginning where a boat sometimes collapsed just before the end. You may be upset about something like this for a while, but the next day you try again. We are now working to speed up the printing process.
What are you aiming for?
“That feeling of freedom when you’re on the water is amazing – we want more people to be able to experience it. We want to make the boats accessible to more people. is still a lot of money. But it’s not much compared to similar models, where you easily end up spending forty thousand euros. We also want to make the industry more sustainable. Lots of materials in the boats are very harmful to the environment to manufacture, take iron and aluminum for example. Also, many materials are not recycled, such as plastics and fiberglass. We make boats from plastic waste and let’s make sure that the material can be converted back to the original material at the end of its useful life, so that a new boat can be printed, for example. We are currently working hard to test this.