Photo Credit: Sarah Saunders

The United States Navy has used 3D printing for a variety of things – ranging from drones to missile components – for some time. There dedication to this developing technologies has now been elevated even more, as this week they announced a partnership with 3D Systems to develop 3D printing. This partnership comes as no surprise to those familiar with NAVAIR’s infatuation with 3D printing technologies. Recently, the Navy estimated that they will have around 1,000 3D printed parts approved by the end of 2018.

3D Systems will be working in collaboration with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division to qualify metal 3D printing for naval ships.

3D Systems is proud of our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Navy. 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,” said Kevin McAlea, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Metals and Healthcare for 3D Systems.

The Newport News Shipbuilding division is a very exclusive group, as they are 1 of the Navy’s 2 submarine providers and are the sole designer, builder and refueler of aircraft carries. Through their new partnership with 3D Systems, Newport News Shipbuilding is confident that they are now capable of transforming the Navy’s shipbuilding process using 3D printing. The new partnership will first look to transition the Navy from their traditional manufacturing processes to additive manufacturing ones. As a result, the Navy would be able to produce parts faster, cheaper and more accurately with less material waste – all critical factors for the Navy.

Logos from Newport News Shipbuilding and 3D Systems were fabricated during a demonstration of the new 3D printer. [Photo: John Whalen/HII]

Already, 3D Systems is delivering results, delivering and installing one of their revolutionary 3D printers at the Newport News Shipbuilding division. In her article highlighting this new partnership, Sarah Saunders explains, “This system, first introduced by 3D Systems in early 2016, is designed for high-volume industrial applications and precision metal 3D printing of complex parts.”

“Newport News Shipbuilding is leading the digital transformation to further revolutionize how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships. With the inclusion of the ProX DMP 320 [3D Systems 3D Printer] into our manufacturing workflow, this marks the first metal 3D printer installed at a major U.S. Navy shipyard,” said Charles Southall, Vice President of Engineering and Design, Newport News Shipbuilding. “With this disruptive technology, Newport News has the potential to reinvent shipbuilding.”

This metal 3D printing systems will serve as a sound foundation for this new partnership, as the companies will undoubtedly continue to develop new and existing 3D printing technologies, specifically metal 3D printers, while also improving part production. For more specifics on just what the U.S. Navy is hoping to 3D print, click here.

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