US Navy Implements 3D Printing in Parts Testing


As the U.S. Navy continues to look to 3D printing as a solution to cut down on lead times for ship parts, a one-year trial of a 3D-printed metal drain strainer, to be tested on the Naval Station Norfolk-based aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, is about to begin.

Naval Sea Systems Command announced the trial approval in October. The part itself is to be installed sometime over the coming weeks, serving as part of the ship’s steam system.

3D Printing Ship Parts

Using 3D printing to create parts for ships comes with its own set of challenges, not the least of which is determining specifications to work from.

Newport News Shipbuilding has developed its own qualifications, while the Navy moved forward with creating its own specifications, noted Justin Rettaliata, a NAVSEA employee who handles approvals of 3D-printed components for ship installation. Specifications must include details relating to materials used, the creation process and necessary testing.

The Truman aircraft carrier’s new part took three days to build, and was printed at a Newport News Shipbuilding partner, spokesperson Duane Bourne noted. Rettaliata added that the original cast part had a lead time of up to nine months. This 3D-printing technology could also lead to a cut in cost for replacement parts, as ordering a large lot would no longer be necessary.

According to Rettaliata, the valve produced for the aircraft carrier “met or exceeded” the specifications for a traditional cast equivalent. Once the year trial is completed, the part will be removed from the ship, undergoing more testing, which will gather data related to corrosion, cracking, operation and other relevant information.


Tagged categories: 3D Printing; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Ships and vessels; U.S. Navy

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