The world’s becoming ever more familiar with 3D printing, and there’s even talk that the technology could revolutionise the way ships are built and maintained in the US Navy. Is it only a matter of time before cruise lines adopt the technology for their own ships?
The technology can print solid objects from plastic, metal, food and even living cells by piling up tiny layers of material over and over. In essence, it allows us to create any object that we can design in 3D on a computer.
It’s a technology that’s becoming more and more widely used. With constant advances in materials and processes, the possibilities seem to be growing by the day. It’s been used to make an exact replica of 007’s Aston Martin in Skyfall (allowing the movie makers to blow it up) and it’s also being used to give surgical patients, human and animal, new body parts that have been tailored to fit them perfectly.
So, what future uses might the cruise industry have for 3D printing technology? And how could it change the way we enjoy a cruise holiday?
Design and architecture
Here at Cruise118 Towers, one of the first things we look at when a new cruise ship launches are the fixtures and fittings in the main public spaces.
The Starburst chandelier aboard the P&O Britannia wowed us all – but with 3D printing on the increase, and considering the kind of money that cruise lines have to play with to impress their passengers, we could look forward to some very different chandeliers and focal points in future.
With the kind of weird, webbed and downright alien structures that 3D printing can produce these days, we could be seeing statues, chandeliers and monuments that re-imagine art and sculpture entirely. We could expect strange new styles that defy traditional building techniques – or even copies of classic statues and masterpieces, recreated in perfect detail.
Even furniture, lighting and interior design are being rethought and redesigned with the new possibilities open to designers – and once the process becomes cheaper and more open to mass production, we may even find 3D-printed furniture and fittings in cruise ship cabins.
Objects and souvenirs
Big supermarket chains are already dipping their toe into commercial 3D printing, producing tiny plastic figures of people using a handheld 3D scanner. Imagine popping inside the cruise ship gift shop in the not-too-distant future, and walking out with a tiny colour statue of you and your family.
The technology is even changing fashion and the way clothes are produced, and there are some incredible new designs in shoes, fabrics and even watches and jewellery. Imagine heading out for the night to a venue on your cruise ship with a 3D printed dress or suit, inspired by the sights and styles you’ve picked up in your new favourite cruise destinations. Or even a custom-made wedding ring, printed right there on the ship.
It’s not all about the aesthetic element, though. 3D-printed objects are essentially objects on demand, that can be printed from scratch using only the printer and a downloaded design file. That means that you could have any object you like, printed on board during your cruise – whether that’s a custom-made suitcase to carry your new souvenirs, a custom-made wheelchair to replace your old one, or even a replacement part for a toy if it gets broken during a family cruise.
Food and drink
Yep, even foodies have embraced the futuristic possibilities of 3D printing. People are already tucking into 3D-printed ice lollies of their own heads, and sugary treats made in impossibly intricate geometric shapes.
With so many highly-trained chefs on board modern cruise ships looking to impress their diners, it’d be surprising if 3D printing didn’t make an appearance in cruise ship cuisine in the future. You might soon be able to order from a huge menu of edible objects, or even foods and flavours that you’ve never seen before. Or even place your order on the tablet computer on your table, and watch your meal being printed and cooked before your eyes.
There’s particular scope for cruise fans with a sweet tooth when it comes to this technology, and luckily there’s never a shortage of treats and desserts to be found on cruise ships. As a suitably gloopy and mouldable material, chocolate already lends itself well to 3D printing. Hands, faces, animals and art – they’re already having life-size copies being printed in chocolate.
Ice and ice cream, too, are getting in on the action. Ice cubes shaped like your favourite animal, or a frozen dessert shaped into your new favourite landmark to celebrate a fantastic trip ashore – it’s all entirely possible with the technology.
Business is booming for the cruise industry, and we’re hoping it won’t be too long before we start to see this incredible technology become a part of life on board cruise ships.
Until then, however, you could always enjoy a cruise ship with surfing, skydiving and day-long shopping on board instead… call our award-winning Cruise Concierge team to find out more about the latest ships, or leave your comment below and let us know what you think!
Images courtesy of Brewbooks/Bathsheba Grossman, Flickr; Watz/Bathsheba Grossman, Wikipedia; Rik Panganiban, Flickr/Photopin; Shapeways/Flickr.