DefenseMaritime Industry

Royal Australian Navy installs metal 3D printing capability

Following an award-winning metal printing trial with the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Navy have installed their very own WarpSPEE3D metal printer at HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin.

The Fleet Support Unit (FSU) at HMAS Coonawarra Navy Port installed a large-format SPEE3D metal 3D printer, making the Royal Australian Navy the latest Australian defence service with the capability to print its own metal parts on demand. Sustainment, or the repair, maintenance and overhaul of equipment makes up a substantial proportion of the cost of all defence forces globally. The difficulty and expense of getting spare parts through regular supply chains has been exacerbated by the current pandemic. 

SPEE3D’s metal printing technology was developed in Australia and is the world’s fastest and most economical metal 3D printing technology. It is also the only large format metal 3D printing technology that has been trialled and proven to be field-deployable by Australia’s defence forces.

A printed aluminum bronze propeller
A printed aluminum bronze propeller

SPEE3D recently completed a series of successful field trials deploying the WarpSPEE3D printer to the remote outback with the Australian Army. The Australian government funded the $1.5 million trial, which included the training of Army craftsmen and engineers in 3D printing at Charles Darwin University. Engineers learnt everything from design to certification of parts. The program resulted in a range of parts that the Army is now able to print and finish in the field at a fraction of the cost and time of current supply chains. The pilot program with the Royal Australian Navy is expected to produce similar results.

SPEE3D’s technology empowers the Navy to design and manufacture the parts they require, when and where they are needed, whether that be on base or at sea. The installation of a WarpSPEE3D at HMAS Coonawarra was made possible after the Australian government made a $1.5 million investment in a similar 18-month pilot of the system’s capabilities for use in the Royal Australian Navy. This world-first trial was designed to streamline the maintenance of patrol vessels and significantly increase AM parts available to the Navy while reducing dependence on regular supply chains. 

SPEE3D CEO Byron Kennedy said: “We are excited to be working with The Royal Australian Navy on this programme. Having the capability to produce high-quality metal parts on-demand, in the field or at sea will be ground-breaking for the Australian Defence Force.”

SPEE3D was recently awarded the AIDN-NT Innovation Award 2020 for the outstanding contribution in providing this capability to Defence and the NT Exporter of The Year 2020 and Australian Trusted Trader Technology and Innovation Award 2020 in the NT Export and Industry Awards.

Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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