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NAPA, ClassNK and JMU confirm viability of 3D model-based approval with new feasibility study

Successful trial sets the scene for faster, easier approvals, and it lays the foundations for commercial digital twin applications

Tokyo-Helsinki – 19 March 2020 – Leading maritime software, services and data analytics company NAPA, classification society ClassNK, and shipbuilding company Japan Marine United (JMU) have completed a joint feasibility study on 3D model-based plan approval (3D MBA) using 3D CAD models.

The study comes as ship designs are gradually transitioning from 2D drawings to using models in 3D CAD software. This means that classification societies, whose plan approvals are currently based mostly on 2D drawings, are now looking to develop processes and procedures for handling 3D CAD models throughout the approval process.

Tapio Hulkkonen, NAPA Design Solutions Director, Product Management, said, “3D model-based approval is an essential part of naval architecture’s future. By continuing to rely on 2D drawings the sector wastes hundreds of thousands of manhours each year, as well as increases the likelihood of avoidable errors in their designs. Ships are three-dimensional objects, and we need to be able to assess them in every plane. This study demonstrates that the technology is ready to go.”

“NAPA Designer is the perfect tool for viewing and evaluating 3D designs, enabling designers, engineers and class societies to rely on a single source of truth. 3D model-based approval also opens the door to greater use of digital twins for safety and optimization, where real-world data can be compared against a virtual model of a ship, and vice versa, to identify problems and validate performance data.”

NAPA has long pioneered the shift from 2D to 3D in design and approval, which significantly streamlines the design process, reducing the need to transition designs between 2D to 3D, and reducing errors that can occur in this transition.

This project was designed to examine the technical developments required at each stage of plan approval to make 3D MBA a reality. In the feasibility study, ClassNK conducted a trial evaluation of hull structural design on a 3D CAD model of a 300,000 DWT carrier. The model was designed and created by JMU, using NAPA Designer – a 3D CAD software application for ship design developed by NAPA – as a 3D model viewer.

The investigation concluded that information required for class approval can be confirmed via a 3D CAD model, paving the way for further development of processes and best practices.

Trial of 3D model based approval using NAPA Designer

Trial of 3D model-based approval using NAPA Designer

About NAPA

In its 30 years of operation, NAPA has become a global leader in software, services and data analysis for the maritime industry; providing best in class data-led solutions for safety, efficiency and productivity in both ship design and operations.

NAPA operates globally, with 11 offices across Asia, Europe and the Americas supported by its Helsinki headquarters. To date, NAPA has 420 user organizations for its design solutions and nearly 3,000 installations onboard vessels. For more information, visit


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