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3D printing in the military has been ongoing long before such technology became available—or even known—in the mainstream. And the Navy is certainly no stranger to additive manufacturing or forward-thinking methods of production whether on land or out to sea; in fact, some soldiers may be surprised to learn that 3D printing becomes part of their military training.

3D printing can quickly prove to be indispensable, however, allowing countless items to be repaired without waiting long periods of time. This is true also for other divisions of the U.S. Military that may be able to create spare parts in extremely remote/rural areas—or they may even create objects that were not previously possible!

While 3D printing may have been occurring on ships for years already, constructing these vessels by such means is a much bigger step. Recently though, Huntington Ingalls Industries (Newport News Shipbuilding division) made history as they used parts created through AM in both the design and production of nuclear-powered warships. Like so many other industrial companies and organizations, they have delved into the use of metal in 3D printing as it offers the potential for incredible strength and durability in parts.

This first metal 3D printed part has been delivered to the designated aircraft carrier, presented in a formal ceremony to Rear Adm. Lorin Selby. Acting as the Naval Sea Systems Command’s chief engineer and deputy commander for ship design, integration, and naval engineering, Selby accepted the 3D printed piping assembly part, to be installed on the Harry S. Truman. It will be assessed for quality and functionality over the next year.

Don Hamadyk, Newport News Shipbuilding’s director of research and development, presented the first 3D printed metal part to Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, Naval Sea Systems Command’s chief engineer and deputy commander for ship design, integration, and naval engineering during a brief ceremony on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Photo by Matt Hildreth/HII.

“We are pleased to have worked so closely with our Navy partners to get to the point where the first 3D metal part will be installed on an aircraft carrier,” said Charles Southall, Newport News’ vice president of engineering and design. “The advancement of additive manufacturing will help revolutionize naval engineering and shipbuilding.”

NAVSEA has recently given the green light, approving 3D printing technical standards—but that has not been a quick and easy process by any means. Gaining approval has involved intense collaborations, along with partnering with other industrial organizations. An engineered test program was completed, and results regarding 3D printing of Navy parts have been published.

The prototype piping assembly will be installed on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Photo by John Whalen/HII.

Interested in finding out more about 3D printing and the Navy? Check out some of our other news stories regarding the Harry S. Truman. This ship (along with a miniature 3D printing lab installed on the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge) has been the site of an experimental Fab Lab that allowed the first 3D printed parts to be created at sea, with sailors innovating depending on need, especially in the area of tools—to include a 3D printed radio clasp that cost only six cents to manufacture.

These types of endeavors, many of which have been taken on by the military, are indicative of the universal benefits offered by 3D printing: affordability, speed in production, and the ability to manufacture in low volume without having to bring in a middleman.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source: MarineLink]

The USS Truman, out at sea. Photo: U.S. Navy

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