The joint effort is expected to support future qualification and certification programs necessary to implement 3D printing technology for the U.S. Navy and further revolutionize how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships. It is also part of a significant technological transformation underway at Newport News called integrated Digital Shipbuilding (iDS).
Additive manufacturing involves the layer-by-layer fabrication of raw materials into a finished product, as compared to traditional manufacturing which uses a subtractive processes, such as cutting or grinding metal.
“This is a game-changing and disruptive technology for our industry,” said Charles Southall, Newport News’ vice president of engineering and design. “In addition to our ongoing digital shipbuilding efforts, 3-D printing could transform our design standards, and this technology has the potential to be one of the most significant manufacturing innovations in our industry since we began building nuclear-powered ships in the 1950s.”
As part of the joint development agreement, 3D Systems delivered and installed the ProX DMP 320 high-performance metal additive manufacturing system at Newport News. The state-of-the-art machine is capable of making three-dimensional, marine-based, alloy parts for castings or other fabricated parts, such as valves, housings and brackets.
“3D Systems is pleased to play an integral role in transforming the naval shipbuilding industry,” said Kevin McAlea, executive vice president and general manager, metals and healthcare, at 3D Systems. “The ProX DMP 320 printer system, combined with our team’s expertise in metal 3-D printing technology, will bring new digitally enhanced geometries to Newport News Shipbuilding, enabling higher performing warship components and ultimately more efficient cost-effective parts delivery to the U.S. Navy.”
The partnership is said to represent a significant step forward in the fabrication of components and material for future warships. Compared to traditional manufacturing methods that involve the conversion of raw materials into a finished product through subtractive processes, such as cutting or grinding metal, additive manufacturing involves the layer-by-layer fabrication of raw materials into a finished product.
“One of our goals is to provide leadership to our supplier base that will help accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing within our industry, which may improve efficiencies and quality,” Southall said. “We look forward to working with key technology leaders, such as 3D Systems, to help to break down technology adoption barriers and advance additive manufacturing in our industry and supply chain.”