First 3D Printed Parts on a US Navy Ship Signals a Sea Change in the Military Supply Chain – 3DPrint.com
As the US Navy increases its implementation of additive manufacturing (AM), it has achieved a series of firsts for the military branch. The latest is the first successful 3D printing of parts aboard a warship, using SPEE3D’s super-fast metal 3D printing technology.
3D printing of metal on board a US Navy 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 operated at sea. Each piece was produced in just six minutes, giving the same results. Additionally, the SPEE3D team has even worked with other companies in their trials to 3D print things like snap fittings for pipes, protective boxes for naval equipment, and manufacturing mechanisms for ships. 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. parts on a ship,” said Steven Camilleri, co-founder and CTO of SPEE3D. “We understand the operational, economic and supply chain issues facing the military and look forward to continuing to work with U.S. Defense to help address some of these challenges.”
Repair of warships at sea
The feat was accomplished as part of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Repair Technology Exercise (REPTX) conducted as part of Naval Advanced Technology Exercise (ANTX)-Coastal Trident 2022 at the base Ventura County Naval Station in Port Hueneme, California. Over the course of 12 days, more than 60 technology providers used their products to solve maintenance and repair problems faced by the naval fleet.
Among those vendors was Australia’s SPEE3D, whose 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 reaching high 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.
The US Navy is increasing the use of 3D printing
SPEE3D’s accomplishment apparently puts it a step ahead of 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 2022, outside of REPTEX. However, this story was only about a diagnostic test of the machine. No part was successfully printed. In contrast, SPEE3D was able to 3D print metal parts both in port and at sea. VRC Metal Systems, a South Dakota-based manufacturer of cold spray coating technology, also participated in REPTEX. While SPEE3D’s equipment produced complete parts, VRC technology was used to apply metallic coatings to rusted areas of the ship.
3DPrint.com macro analyst Matt Kremenetsky pointed out that the navy may be attracted to cold spray for its speed and relatively compact footprint, further suggesting that maritime use of 3D printing will be increasingly additionally needed “to restructure supply chains such that as much AM infrastructure as possible is located close to major seaports.” In a consultation with the author, Kremenetsky indicated that, in a world of rising seas due to global warming, naval forces and coast guards will also have broader enforcement roles, so Rising tides lift all boats for the world’s navies, and so 3D printing.
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