3D Systems has announced a new partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding—the shipbuilder’s division responsible for designing, building and refuelling the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers as well as one of its two submarine suppliers. Through the alliance, the companies say they will work together to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies for nuclear-powered naval warships. The collaboration marks a distinctive step ahead for the U.S. Navy’s adoption of 3D printing technologies.
Announced today, the partnership will see Newport News Shipbuilding transferring segments of its production from traditional to additive manufacturing. At this stage, 3D Systems has already delivered and installed its ProX DMP 320 metal 3D printer at the shipbuilder’s facility, making it the first metal 3D printer to be in use at a major U.S. Navy shipyard. Newport News and 3D Systems expect that the integration of metal AM will enable the former to increase the production rates of high accuracy parts, cut back on material waste, and lower overall production costs.
Released in 2016, 3D System’s ProX DMP 320 is part of its Direct Metal Printing line of high-performance metal AM systems. The robust machine boasts a build volume of 275 x 275 x 420 mm and high throughput printing. In addition to its recent defense applications, the printer is also geared towards the aerospace, automotive, and healthcare markets.
In terms of specific applications, the U.S. Navy supplier will use 3D Systems’ ProX DMP 320 to manufacture valves, housings, and brackets, as well as marine-based alloy replacement parts for castings. The 3D printed components are being investigated for potential use in nuclear-powered warships. Not only will Newport News be used the ProX DMP 320, but it will also work closely with 3D Systems to develop new AM technologies for even better production results.
“Newport News Shipbuilding is leading the digital transformation to further revolutionize how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships,” commented 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.”
Though the partnership does come with a first, this is not the first time 3D Systems has collaborated with the U.S. Navy. In fact, the entities have worked together for decades, with 3D Systems offering its expertise in additive manufacturing for various military applications. For example, 3D Systems has contributed to the production of aircraft parts, submersible components, and more.
“3D Systems is proud of our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Navy,” said Kevin McAlea, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Metals and Healthcare at 3D Systems. “Through this collaboration with Newport News Shipbuilding, our 3D printing solution combined with our team’s expertise in metal 3D printing technology will redefine the supply chain for naval ship components—improving efficiencies and lowering total cost of operation.”
The news of 3D Systems’ new partnership comes just a month after the Office of Naval Research awarded Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) a $2.6 million contract for the purpose of supplying solutions to ensure the quality of additively manufactured metal parts for naval applications. CTC’s agreement was initiated through the Office of Naval Research’s Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program.