America’s largest military shipbuilding company, Huntington Ingalls Industries, has delivered the first 3D printed metal part to the US Navy for installation on an aircraft carrier.
The news is a milestone in the integration of additive manufacturing into the design and fabrication of components for nuclear-powered warships.
The milestone was recognized during a brief ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. The part was presented by the Newport News Shipbuilding division to RADM Lorin Selby, Naval Sea Systems Command’s chief engineer.
The part—a piping assembly—will be installed on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman and evaluated for a one-year period.
“We are pleased to have worked so closely with our Navy partners to get to the point where the first 3D metal part will be installed on an aircraft carrier,” Charles Southall, Newport News’ vice president of engineering and design, said. “The advancement of additive manufacturing will help revolutionize naval engineering and shipbuilding. It also is a significant step forward in our digital transformation of shipbuilding processes to increase efficiency, safety and affordability.
“This is an accomplishment we all should be proud of.”
US Naval Sea Systems Command last year approved the technical standards for 3D printing after collaboration with the company and industry partners that involved putting printed test parts and materials through an engineered test program.
The digitized process could lead to cost savings and reduced production schedules for naval ships.
The world’s largest 3D metal printer is operated by Melbourne-based company Titomic, and was developed in cooperation with Advanced Robotics Australia and the CSIRO.
Where other 3D metal printers are largely only capable of building one kilogram per day to a max volume of one cubic metre, Titomic’s machine can manufacture parts of up to 45 kilograms in one hour to a max volume of 40 cubic metres.