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US Navy embraces 3D printing

May 15, 2018

Metal additive manufacturing technology is now being used in the construction of naval warships, thanks to a partnership between 3D Systems and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division.

As Industrial Laser Solutions reports, Newport News Shipbuilding “is the sole designer, builder, and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines.”

Its new collaboration with 3D Systems means that the shipbuilding company will be switching “portions” of its manufacturing processes from traditional methods to additive manufacturing. In doing so, the shipbuilder anticipates “enhanced production rates […] with reduced waste”, as well as the “potential for significant cost-savings over other traditional production processes.”

As part of the partnership agreement, 3D Systems delivered and installed a ProX DMP 320 3D metal printer at the shipbuilder’s premises, which will be used “to produce marine-based alloy replacement parts for castings, valves, housings, and brackets for future nuclear-powered warships.”

In addition to this printer, the 3D company and the shipbuilder “are already developing new additive manufacturing technologies”.

3D Systems has been collaborating with the Navy for many years, and this partnership with Newport News Shipbuilding “marks the culmination of joint R&D efforts to qualify metal additive manufacturing to build components for nuclear-powered naval vessels.”

“Newport News Shipbuilding is leading the digital transformation to further revolutionise how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships,” said Charles Southall, Vice President of engineering and design at Newport News Shipbuilding. “With the inclusion of the ProX DMP 320 into our manufacturing workflow, this marks the first metal 3D printer installed at a major U.S. Navy shipyard. With this disruptive technology, Newport News has the potential to reinvent shipbuilding.”



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