Additive manufacturing software developer 3YOURMIND has been awarded a contract by the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific to provide the US Navy with a seamless digital production workflow to enable distributed additive manufacturing.
Integrating 3YOURMIND’s software platform and additive manufacturing-specific digital thread will be a critical part of the NIWC Pacific and NIWC Atlantic’s mission to provide uninterrupted vigilance, adaptive response and engineering excellence.
“It’s imperative for the US military to have secure data and production transparency to achieve operational success,” said William Cuervo, Senior Business Development Manager at 3YOURMIND. “With multiple, international locations equipped with a variety of AM technologies, materials and competencies – it’s valuable to have a sophisticated software strategy that collates and organizes this information.”
The US Navy’s adoption of 3D printing
The US Navy has long recognized the potential of 3D printing, and has commissioned a number of research projects to develop the technology and its applications.
In 2018, the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) awarded Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) a $2.6 million contract to ensure the manufacturability of metal 3D printed parts for use in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
The US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has also awarded funding to seven nautical R&D programs which could potentially yield cost savings of over $250 million. Three of the new projects will use 3D printing to improve the efficiency of its naval shipbuilding and repair processes, while others focus on design optimization and developing a process to approve and ship 3D printed parts at a more rapid pace.
In September last year, the US Navy’s own scientists were issued a 20-year patent for a 3D printable material made of a marine-biodegradable base polymer that breaks down over time. The new material could potentially make underwater equipment such as unmanned or autonomous underwater vehicles (UUVs) biodegradable.
In February, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) became the first to install Xerox’s new ElemX Liquid Metal 3D printer, and will use the machine to develop new ways of fabricating parts on-demand for deployment across the US Armed Forces. Most recently, the Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) 3D printed functional lightweight cylindrical antenna arrays that could be key to advance the Navy’s radar monitoring capabilities.
Developing a seamless digital production workflow
An operational environment such as the battlefield relies on rapid solutions, so the ability to print on-demand in distributed manufacturing locations will provide a significant advantage to the US Navy. As part of its contract with the Navy, 3YOURMIND will contribute its Agile ERP and Agile MES software products to establish a 3D printer network that is responsive, communicative and secure.
The Agile ERP module of the company’s software suite automates pricing, production recommendations and routine business processes for order management regarding 3D printing, while the Agile MES module optimizes scheduling, transparency and quality assurance tracking along the additive manufacturing production chain.
3YOURMIND’s workflow management tools have also been recently deployed to aggregate CAD data and identify 3D printable parts for production in Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD. The digital manufacturing project is focused on revamping the US’ supply chains, and has already formed the country’s largest network of blockchain-connected 3D printers to date.
The firm will work with the Navy and NIWC Pacific to develop a cyber network infrastructure complete with knowledge management services to ensure that reliable information is immediately available to those who need it, no matter where they are. Integrating 3YOURMIND’s ERP and MES software offerings will aid the Navy in guaranteeing battlefield readiness and warfighter innovation.
“Distributed manufacturing is a key tenant in delivering as-needed parts to the Fleet,” continued Cuervo. “Being able to communicate the need for specific parts, safely transmit the associated manufacturing data, and monitor production at any location across the globe gives us the ability to be more effective than ever before.”
Earlier this year, 3YOURMIND raised $12.4 million in its latest funding round, securing two prominent new European investors in LBBW VC the venture capital arm of Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, and Swiss venture capital firm Verve Ventures. The new investors will provide the firm with access to an extensive network of potential partnerships for its additive manufacturing workflow management tools.
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Featured image shows 3YOURMIND has been awarded a contract by NIWC Pacific to provide the US Navy with a seamless digital production workflow for distributed additive manufacturing. Image via NIWC Pacific.