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Nordic partner region: AM North

3D Printing Among Reindeer and Polar Bears

Text: Thomas Masuch, 6 September 2023

AM North in Hammerfest supports the oil and gas and fishing and aquaculture industries

Directly at the harbor of Hammerfest, the northernmost city in the world, many would say that AM North has developed into the most northern center of 3D printing. The far northern part of Norway, whose heraldic animal is the polar bear, lives mainly from the oil and gas and fishing industries. Hundreds of salmon farms line the rocky coastline, producing millions of tons of salmon each year. Because space in coastal waters is becoming scarce, some farm operators are moving further offshore.

Image: AM North
Image: AM North

As the fishing industry expands, so does oil and gas production. In addition to the existing oil and gas fields around Hammerfest, further fields are to be developed in the next few years. An LNG terminal that was inaugurated in 2007 liquefies the extracted natural gas for transport to Central Europe, among other places. One of the lighthouse projects of this development is the 313-meter-long oil production vessel Johann Castberg, which will be deployed at the oil field of the same name around 240 kilometers northwest of Hammerfest at a water depth of 360 to 390 meters.

To operate the Johann Castberg as self-sufficiently as possible, the software startup Fieldnode is building a digital warehouse for spare parts for the oil production vessel, also making use of AM North’s expertise and production capacity for this purpose. In addition, the northern AM hub will support the local fishing industry. The use of 3D printing is also expected to strengthen other companies in the Finnmark region and make them more competitive, including by reducing lead times. In addition, AM North wants to enable the industry in this remote part of the world far north of the Arctic Circle to produce important spare parts in a self-sufficient manner.

Aquaculture and the fish industry are two of the most important economic sectors in northern Norway. Image: AM North

Roman Fredriksen, head of AM North, also believes there are good opportunities for suppliers and partners in the AM sector. "While the oil and gas industry requires a high level of technical expertise and develops many solutions internally, the fishing industry takes a different approach: here, you work almost exclusively with partners and help them develop further,” he explains.

AM North wants to further support this process. In addition to design and production support, training plays a major role. For example, Fredriksen and his team show engineers and technicians at partner companies how to identify parts for additive manufacturing, calculate costs and savings, and select the right AM technology.

AM North was founded by NorSea Polarbase together with GSG, a subcontractor for the fishing industry; and Pro Barents, a business incubator. Financial support also came from the oil and gas companies Equinor and Vår Energi, as well as Innovation Norway.

The port of Hammerfest is not only an important location for the supply of oil and gas production platforms but is also home to AM North, an important base for Additive Manufacturing. Around 240 kilometers northwest of Hammerfest, the oil production vessel Johann Castberg will be deployed. Image: AM North

Major seafood companies such as Grieg Seafood, Cermaq, and Jangaard are part of the AM North network, which has already implemented initial use cases for some of its members. This has involved activities like 3D-printing spare parts or improved components. To meet these technological challenges, AM North has acquired a fairly broad portfolio of printers, including various desktop printers and metal printers such as a Lasertec 30 SLM from DMG Mori.

The partners have big plans for AM North and are currently engaged in an extensive marketing effort. The network, which launched in February 2023, plans to be highly visible at the prestigious Arctic Race of Norway in August, for example. "We want to significantly increase our presence and show companies throughout the region that we can support them with cutting-edge technology such as additive manufacturing," Fredriksen explains.

Not content to simply attend this international cycling event at the North Pole, AM North has also applied its expertise in manufacturing and design more directly: The trophies for the Arctic Race of Norway were designed based on student drawings and 3D-printed from metal.



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