Correction 9/9/22: This article previously stated that SPEE3D was the first to 3D print parts aboard a naval vessel. We have recently learned that Xerox successfully 3D printed metal parts in July 2022. This correction is reflected below.
As the U.S. Navy increases its implementation of additive manufacturing (AM), it has achieved a series of firsts for the military branch. The latest is the successful 3D printing of parts aboard a naval vessel, which it accomplished using SPEE3D’s ultra-fast metal 3D printing technology.
Metal 3D Printing Aboard a US Naval Ship
To perform the exercise, the company relied on one of its WarpSPEED 3D printers to produce a bronze anchor five times while the ship was operating at sea. Each part was produced in just six minutes, yielding the same results. Moreover, the SPEE3D team even worked with other companies during their trials to 3D print such items as pressure fittings for pipes, protective boxes for naval equipment, and manufacturing mechanisms for robotic arms.
“Our goal during REPTX was to successfully test WarpSPEE3D’s deployable technology to print maritime military parts on demand and in various sea conditions. We’re thrilled the results are favorable and that SPEE3D is the world’s first to print parts on a ship,” said Steven Camilleri, Co-Founder and CTO of SPEE3D. “We understand the operational, economic, and supply chain issues the military faces and look forward to continuing to work with US Defense to help solve some of these challenges.”
Repairing Naval Ships at Sea
The feat was accomplished as a part of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Repair Technology Exercise (REPTX) conducted as part of Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX)-Coastal Trident 2022 at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California. Over the course of 12 days, over 60 technology suppliers utilized their products to address maintenance and repair problems faced by the Naval fleet.
Among those suppliers was Australia’s SPEE3D, whose take on cold spray deposition sees metal powders ejected at rates of 100 grams per minute using supersonic gas jets. That’s 100 to 1,000 times faster than other metal 3D printing technologies, according to the company. In addition to achieving great speeds, the company’s technology can use 12 different materials, ranging from copper, stainless steel and titanium to high-strength aluminum and nickel-based carbides.
US Navy Increases 3D Printing Usage
SPEE3D’s accomplishment seemingly puts it a step behind Xerox, which recently claimed its own naval “first.” The company saw its ElemX system become the first metal 3D printer deployed at sea in July of 2022, outside of REPTEX. While not discussed in detail at that time, that story involved not only a diagnostic test of the machine, but also the successful printing of aluminum parts. Also taking part in REPTEX was VRC Metal Systems, a South Dakota-based manufacturer of cold spray coating technology. Whereas SPEE3D’s equipment produced complete parts, VRCs technology was used for applying metallic coatings to rusted areas of the ship.
3DPrint.com Macro Analyst Matt Kremenetsky pointed out that the Navy may be drawn to cold spray for its speed and comparatively compact footprint, further suggesting that maritime use of 3D printing will be increasingly necessary “to restructure supply chains such that as much AM infrastructure as possible is located near major seaports.” In a consultation with the author, Kremenetsky indicated that, in a world where the seas are getting higher due to global heating, naval forces and coast guards will have broader enforcement roles, as well, such that rising tides lift all boats for the world’s navies and, therefore, 3D printing.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
3D Printing News Unpeeled: BWM, DCUBED, Neighborhood 91, PPPrint and Shape Memory Alloys
BMW and the TU Wien make a technical demonstrator part for a B Pillar frame using short carbon fiber 3D printing of PA using CEAD together with AFP. PPPrint is...
3D Printing News Unpeeled: Boom to Bust, GKN Makes 8 Foot Part and New 3Deus 3D Printing Process
Today we´re talking about Boom Supersonic. The US based supersonic airliner firm has had Rolls Royce drop out of its engine partnership. This means that none of the large engine...
3D Printing News Briefs, September 21, 2022: 3D Printed Post Office, Hydraulics, Layer Adhesion, & More
We’re starting with the first 3D printed post office in India in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to materials, as a new laser sintering material from...
3D Printing News Unpeeled: 3D Printed Solid State Polymer Electrolytes
YoutTuber Cranktown City is making a desktop glass bead sintering 3D printer, Design company Nagami is using six axis robots to make beautiful objects. A paper from Nature Materials by...