The U.S. Navy’s 3D Printing Innovation Is just Getting Warmed up
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Back in September, Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. (BPMI) awarded a contract to ATI Inc. to build a metal additive manufacturing (AM) facility in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area, in support of the US Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. At the time, I wrote, “At least in terms of anything publicly known, the U.S. Navy’s success with AM over the last couple of years has been one of the global economy’s biggest triumphs of innovation during that timeframe.”
Specifically, I was referencing the permanent installation of a metal 3D printer on a U.S. Navy surface vessel, and a carbon fiber platform on a naval submarine. However, there are a number of other developments I could have referenced, and around two weeks after I wrote that story, yet another such development occurred, when General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced they were accelerating their efforts to use metal AM for Virginia-class submarines.
Indeed, the Department of Defense (DoD) is driving innovation across the U.S. AM ecosystem. According to “Additive Manufacturing for Military and Defense,“ the recently-published Additive Manufacturing Research written by myself and Tali Rosman, the DoD’s direct spend on AM in 2023 will be around $300 million. The U.S. Navy, in turn, is at the heart of DoD’s AM innovation.
There are many reasons accounting for this…
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