These days, shipyards use completely modular approaches to build ships. Steel sheets are welded into panels of up to 400 m², which are then connected to profiles, beams, and side walls to form segments that are equipped with all the necessary piping, cables, and insulation.
The prefabricated segments are formed into blocks that are several decks high. Every fabrication step is precision work in which, first of all, heavy panels, then more than 150-ton segments, followed by blocks weighing hundreds of tons have to be aligned.
Positioning lasers are used for this. For instance, a system from LASER COMPONENTS, in which eight lasers monitor the alignment of the segments. Their positions are transmitted by radio to a central display. Assembly can begin only when each laser is in the center of an associated detector on the ship segment.
Shipyards are increasingly using lasers to join heavy steel plates and enormous cabin modules. New methods will help expand the range of applications.