Though numerous materials are required in shipbuilding, steel is by far the most common. Carbon and mild steel grades are used throughout the structure of a ship, forming its hull, decking, and nearly everything in between. These metals are ideal for marine engineering thanks to their high yield and tensile strengths, superior resistance to fatigue, and low costs. But steel hasn’t always been the primary structural material used in shipbuilding.
Shipbuilding in the 19th Century
In the 1800s, the most common technique of shipbuilding was composite ship construction. Composite ships were built with a wrought iron frame and wood planking. The popularity of this design was partly due to the wrought iron frame, the strength of which allowed more interior space than wooden ships and made the ship virtually invulnerable to hogging and sagging (deformities in the beams caused by loaded cargo).
Shipbuilding in the 20th Century
The use of steel in shipbuilding gradually grew through the turn of the century, but it wasn’t until World War II, when the need for durable, lighter, and faster watercraft for wartime operations arose, that steel took over as the primary structural material of shipbuilding. Military ships and cargo freighters during this time were made almost exclusively out of steel to meet this demand.
Post-War Through Today
With the end of the war came the end of the use of iron in shipbuilding and the birth of the block construction method of prefabricated steel beams and sections that is still used in shipbuilding today. Carbon and mild steels are a commodity for modern shipbuilding, and the demand is high for talented steel fabricators who apply their craft to building sea vessels that are used around the world.
Fabricating Steel for Shipbuilding
Steel that is used in building ships must be precisely shaped to meet the parameters of the blueprints. Therefore, it is imperative that professional steel fabricators who serve the shipbuilding industry have the proper equipment to deliver perfection on every steel component they fabricate.
Advanced CNC Plasma Cutting Technology
If you specialize in structural steel fabrication for shipbuilding, you want industry-leading plasma cutting technology like BeamCut on your side. BeamCut boasts state-of-the-art features that can help improve the quality of your work and speed up production. These features include:
The FANUC robotic arm has six axes for full 360-degree beveling and can cut any shape or profile used in shipbuilding. And it is three times stronger and lasts three times longer than the industry standard.
BeamCut is fueled by Hypertherm XPR300 plasma, one of the most powerful plasma sources for structural steel fabrication
User-Friendly CNC Software
BeamCut’s CNC software allows you to manually calibrate cutting tolerances, nest parts, and track robotic cutting paths to prevent mistakes and unnecessary waste. Import files from a fully developed shape library or draw your own, all on one easy-to-use interface.
Benefits of Automation
Thanks to its all-in-one design, BeamCut replaces punches, drill lines, band saws, layout and marking stations, and coping and grinding stations. In fact, BeamCut can handle every step of the fabrication in one pass. And because it’s automated, it minimizes material handling and the risk of damage that comes with it and helps business owners maintain a lean workforce because BeamCut only requires one technician to operate. This remarkable structural steel fabrication technology can remedy pinch points in your production and improve turnaround times by as much as 80%. That’s an outstanding return on investment!
To learn more about BeamCut, the CNC plasma cutting system that can help perfect structural steel fabrication for the shipbuilding industry, contact us today.