Navy goes all-in on 3D printing technology

Office of Naval Research interested in bringing 3D printing to large scale for ships, aircraft

Navy goes all-in on 3D printing technology

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Credit: Reuters

The Navy this month will outline what it is looking for from additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology as way to bolster what it terms “fleet readiness.”

The Office of Naval Research will on July 15 detail its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program that will aim to “develop and integrate the suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware tools required to ensure that critical metallic components can be consistently produced and rapidly qualified in a cost effective manner.”

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In particular, technology development is required to reduce the time and cost of associated with deploying qualified/certified AM metallic components for use in Naval Air, Sea, and Ground platforms,” ONR stated. While additive manufacturing is currently being used or explored across the Naval Enterprise, technology development is still necessary to accelerate the use of additively manufactured metallic components particularly analogs of Titanium and Aluminum for castings.

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The idea is that the Navy could make needed parts onboard ships at sea including aircraft parts for planes on aircraft carriers. The issues that could challenge the plan are storage of needed manufacturing components and the sheer size of some parts on ships and aircraft.

The Navy has a number of different ongoing 3D trials and recently partnered with 3D Systems to evaluate and develop evaluate 3D printing technology and materials for military uses.

”Additive manufacturing has the potential to be a truly disruptive technology and shows great promise for supporting Naval Sea Systems components,” said Jennifer Wolk, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division Additive Manufacturing Lead in a statement. “However, a great deal more needs to be done to ensure this technology can be qualified for repeatable, safe, and effective use. This cooperative research and development agreement is an important step toward broader utilization of this technology.”

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