Materials to make a ship lighter, faster and more efficient

To make an Ultimate Ship, first we will need some materials. South Korea are the biggest ship builders in the world.


We are at the Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan, South Korea. 

The ships are made in sections. Entire multi-deck segments of the hull or superstructure are built elsewhere in the yard, transported to the building dock, then lifted into place, which is why you can’t see them being made here.

This is known as “block construction”. The most modern shipyards pre-install equipment, pipes, electrical cables, and any other components within the blocks, to minimize the effort needed to assemble or install components deep within the hull once it is welded together.

To make ships more efficient and environmentally-friendly, composite materials are now being used more in modern and futuristic ship design.

A composite material is when you take two or more materials with different properties and bond them together so their properties

For example – Cement, sand and crushed stone makes a composite called Concrete.

A composite material that is used in ship and boat design would be Polymer-based (plastic) composites like Glass Reinforced Plastic.

Glass Reinforced Plastic is Still light like Plastic, but stronger like glass.  Polymer composite materials also don’t corrode as steel does – meaning they are cheaper to look after.

Saving weight is also really useful in ships. Mainly as it will reduce fuel costs and is also much better for the environment. Also in things like cruise ships it means you’re able to  fit in more rooms, Casinos and Restaurants – which means more money can be made.

bucky paperAnother new material is BuckyPaper. Which is made up of carbon nanotubes. Each tube is 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and 1 tenth the weight of steel.

Here are the top 3 things that could change the future of Shipbuilding Materials –

  • Buckypaper would mean ships need less fuel, and is fireproof so would prevent fires on ships. It’s already starting to be used for aeroplanes so it could soon be used for ships of the future.
  • Soon Robotics could be used more often to build ships. This would mean ships could be built more quickly and workers wouldn’t have to do the more dangerous tasks.
  • 3D Printing technology could also be used to build ships slice by slice. 3D printing would also be useful for quickly producing replacement parts of ships.

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