Leveraging the Advantages of Additive Manufacturing to Produce Advanced Hybrid Composite Structures for Marine Energy Systems

Paul Murdy, Jack Dolson, David Miller, Scott Hughes, Ryan Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations


Many marine energy systems designers and developers are beginning to implement composite materials into the load-bearing structures of their devices, but traditional mold-making costs for composite prototyping are disproportionately high and lead times can be long. Furthermore, established molding techniques for marine energy structures generally require many manufacturing steps, such as secondary bonding and tooling. This research explores the possibilities of additively manufactured internal composite molds and how they can be used to reduce costs and lead times through novel design features and processes for marine energy composite structures. In this approach, not only can the composite mold be additively manufactured but it can also serve as part of the final load-bearing structure. We developed a conceptual design and implemented it to produce a reduced-scale additive/composite tidal turbine blade section to fully demonstrate the manufacturing possibilities. The manufacturing was successful and identified several critical features that could expedite the tidal turbine blade manufacturing process, such as single-piece construction, an integrated shear web, and embedded root fasteners. The hands-on manufacturing also helped identify key areas for continued research to allow for efficient, durable, and low-cost additive/composite-manufactured structures for future marine energy systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1336
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-78492


  • Composite manufactur-ing
  • Composite structures
  • Design for additive manufacturing
  • Hybrid structures
  • Marine energy
  • Tidal turbine


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