The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) is bringing the Navy closer to 3D printing metal parts for vital air, ground and sea platforms.
The ONR has awarded Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) a two year $2.6 million contract, with a $3.8 million option, to ensure the manufacturability of metal 3D printed parts.
The contract is part of the Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program, an ONR initiative to enable cost-effective, on-demand production of 3D printed metal parts, for use in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
The global market for naval MRO has been predicted by Credence Research to grow at a rate of 8.8 percent annually between 2017-2025.
Naval MRO needs met by 3D printing
CTC will fabricate components using laser powder-bed fusion metal 3D printing in collaboration with project team members: SLM Solutions N.A., MSC Software, MRL Materials Resources LLC, the University of Pittsburgh, and America Makes.
Last year, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Moran said the Navy is facing a “downward readiness spiral” as a result of years of high demand of naval forces and funding cuts. CTC and its project team members will be looking to address this by rapidly developing metal 3D printed components for MRO.
According to the ONR, “Aging Naval platforms are being challenged by dwindling traditional sources of supply. In response to this need, the Naval Warfare Centers, maintenance depots, and FRCs plan to use additive manufacturing to produce small quantities of out-of-production or long lead-time metallic components.”
CTC CEO, Edward J. Sheehan Jr., concurred saying “personnel and aging equipment are stretched thin amid years of war, statutory budget caps and temporary workarounds, end-strength cuts, and Congress passing continuing resolutions.
In response to this need, Concurrent Technologies Corporation and its integrated project team members are providing new technology that can address the short and long-term challenge of replacing aging or broken parts literally on site.”
The Navy’s commitment to 3D printing
The contract furthers the U.S. Navy’s commitment to 3D printing. The Navy recently partnered with additive manufacturing data collection and software development company Senvol. The partnership will develop a machine learning program for the expedited creation of 3D printed parts.
Other naval operators are also benefiting from 3D printing. Spanish ship builder Navantia is trialing 3D printed parts aboard its Monte Udala Suezmax oil tanker. It has replaced 25 kilos of steel with 3.5 kilos of 3D printed ABS reinforced with carbon fiber.
The use of additive manufacturing in the maritime sector will be addressed at a specialist conference later this month when NAMIC host a Maritime and Energy Summit.
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Featured image shows U.S. Naval vessels at sea. Photo via the US Naval Research Laboratory on Facebook.