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NSWC Philadelphia Division Supports Additive Manufacturing in the Fleet

By Keegan Rammel, NSWCPD Public Affairs | NSWCPD | Sept. 30, 2020

Following the successful one-year trial of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology aboard aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) employees, in collaboration with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division employees continue to support current trials on different ship classes.

“Additive manufacturing technology will be part of the Navy’s future,” said. Dr. E. Michael Golda, NSWCPD’s Chief Technology Officer. “On-demand shipboard AM could increase self-sufficiency by eliminating the wait for long lead time replacement parts. The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is taking a step-wise approach to implement shipboard AM.”

CVN 74’s trial successfully demonstrated that printing underway was possible by providing a shipboard environment necessary to create quality parts.

NSWCPD is now helping to support an AM trial which includes eight new ships in total, including three Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport ship, a Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship, and two Wasp-class amphibious assault ships.

This multi-ship trial will help create the AM guidelines that govern shipboard use of 3D printers and determine the best conditions for their use.

“Our goal in deploying the AM equipment on multiple ship classes is to capture applications for all unique mission needs that might arise across Navy platforms,” said Shaun Verrinder, a mechanical engineer in NSWCPD’s Advanced Machinery Systems Integration Branch. “Sailors have been extremely enthusiastic about the Additive Manufacturing Machines and assisting our research.”

During the shipboard AM trial, a list of over 100 low-criticality parts currently approved by NAVSEA Technology Office and Additive Manufacturing Technical Warrant Holder will be used to allow Sailors to create parts to fix simple shipboard components.

These simple component replacements, which include buttons and knobs, can often take months to source, or may not be available as individual items. The 3D printed parts can also act as a bridge to maintain a system’s capability until a traditional replacement part is received. Sailors working with the AM machines are being trained on 3D Computer Aided-Design (CAD) software, which allows them to design, model, and print parts.

During the trial, all low-criticality AM parts require the approval of the ship’s Chief Engineer (CHENG) while underway, or the waterfront CHENG while at the pier, as required by the NAVSEA Technology Office. The 3D CAD software also allows Sailors to create parts that are not on the list. Parts with a higher risk level will require a design package review by the appropriate NAVSEA Technical Authorities. If approved, Sailors will be able to print the designs locally with the approval of the cognizant local authority.

NSWCPD employees also see opportunities to support the fleet with AM technology even from the shore. NSWCPD’s Patrick Violante, Advanced Data Acquisition Prototyping Technologies and Virtual Environments (ADAPT.VE) Team Lead, believes that each command within the Warfare Center community could use their AM machines to produce parts for the fleet that provide temporary solutions to sourcing issues.

“The ADAPT.VE Lab could directly support the fleet and the enterprise remotely by printing the needed parts on our printers that aren’t at capacity. This would allow the ship to get back underway and support its mission,” Violante said.

As the at-sea trials determine how AM could best support the fleet, Verrinder believes the technology will be part of the Navy’s future.

“I see a lot of potential for AM within the fleet,” Verrinder said. “Even if the technology isn’t on every ship I believe it can provide a considerable advantage to our Sailors.”

NSWCPD employs approximately 2,700 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel. The NSWCPD team does the research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for the non-nuclear machinery, ship machinery systems, and related equipment and material for Navy surface ships and submarines. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.

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