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3D Systems and Huntington Ingalls to develop metal printing for US Navy

15 May 2018

Partners say they intend to transform US Navy shipbuilding methods, saving time, materials and money.

Laser-assisted 3D printing specialist 3D Systems has announced its collaboration with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships. Newport News Shipbuilding is the sole designer, builder and refueler of US Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of US Navy submarines.

The partners say that through this collaboration, they will transition portions of their manufacturing process “from traditional manufacturing methods to additive”, anticipating improved production rates of high-accuracy parts with reduced waste, and the potential for making significant cost savings over other manufacturing methods.

The first part of this newly-announced agreement was achieved when 3D Systems installed a ProX DMP 320 3D metal printer at Newport News Shipbuilding’s site.

Newport News plans to use the ProX DMP 320 – designed for precision metal 3D printing – to produce marine-based alloy replacement parts for castings as well as valves, housings and brackets – for future nuclear-powered warships. With the ProX DMP 320 as the foundation, the companies are already developing new additive manufacturing technologies to further enhance part production.

The ProX DMP 320 high-performance metal additive manufacturing system is a heavy duty alternative to traditional metal manufacturing processes: With a build volume of 275 x 275 x 420 mm (10.82 x 10.82 x 16.53 in) it is said to offer reduced waste, greater speeds for production, short set up times and very dense and pure metal parts.

Established relationship

3D Systems has contributed additive manufacturing expertise to the U.S. Navy for decades with 3D printing being used for everything from aircraft parts to submersible components. This particular collaboration with Newport News Shipbuilding marks the culmination of joint R&D efforts to qualify metal additive manufacturing to build components for nuclear-powered naval vessels.

“We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Navy,” said Kevin McAlea, executive vice president, general manager, metals and healthcare, 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.”

“Newport News Shipbuilding is leading the digital transformation to further revolutionize how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships,” said Charles Southall, vice president of engineering and design, 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.”

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