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NEWS | June 15, 2023

NSWCPD’s NAVSEA Naval Systems Engineering & Logistics Directorate Team hosts Ask Me Anything Concerning Additive Manufacturing

By Joseph Fontanazza

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division’s (NSWCPD) Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Naval Systems Engineering & Logistics Directorate (SEA05) team hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session about the Command’s priorities in Additive Manufacturing (AM) on April 25, 2023.

AM is described by NAVSEA as "the process of joining materials to make parts from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing and formative manufacturing methodologies."

NSWCPD’s SEA05Z AM Project Manager Patrick Violante began the AMA by stating what the SEA05 team wanted to accomplish with the information session and as a whole through their work.

“We want to build awareness in our community at our Command around AM. There's a lot of great work that's going on, and there's a lot of focus at the program office level driving this technology forward,” Violante said. “We want to share the message with the folks here at the Command to not only build awareness, but we want to find a way to build a community of interest around the technology internally for our technical service engineering agents.”

“But also we want to engage our industry and academia partners in the surrounding areas and demonstrate the level of maturity that the technologies are at and build the confidence in folks that there's a strong team in place that you can work with,” he added.

NSWCPD’s SEA05T AM Deputy Program Manager & Logistics Integration Lead, Scott Storms, provided an overview of the NAVSEA AM Research, Development, Testing and Engineering (RDT&E) Program’s efforts, including process and competent certification, afloat and undersea deployment, digital integration, and logistics and supply system integration.

Storms also delved into an overview of some of the high-level AM processes, including materials such as polymer, metal, glass, and concrete, which can be made from AM’s seven different processes for applications such as medical implants, prototyping, and end-items.

“What we want to get across here is there is a varying degree of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) across the seven different processes, and even within each of those seven processes there are sub-categories that have varying TRLs. AM is constantly changing because it is heavily driven by the commercial market,” Storms said. “The next machine that comes out might improve upon the previous version, as a result, it has an even higher TRL.”

“What we're trying to achieve with the AM Process Technical Publications (Tech Pubs) is to ensure quality and reliability of AM processes through an improved understanding of the vendor’s actual part performance, machine performance, and material performance,” he added.

NSWCPD’s SEA05T Afloat AM Research and Development (R&D) Lead Shaun Verrinder then provided attendees with an explanation of the current afloat and undersea AM uses and how those operations can be leveraged in the future.

“We found that a lot of it came down to the enthusiasm of the crew for embracing these newer technologies. It was really driving home how AM afloat could help enhance the Sailors' self-sufficiency by giving them another tool in their manufacturing and repair toolbox,” Verrinder said. “We deployed those polymer systems across various surface and submarine platforms up through 2020 and then just this past November, we had our first deployment of a metal system afloat aboard a surface vessel.”

“We also had a lot of enthusiasm from the USS New Hampshire to help us preliminarily investigate newer polymer AM equipment that we were considering to update prior submarine polymer AM kits,” he continued.

NSWCPD’s SEA05T Afloat AM Integration Lead Jake Robbins then provided additional details about the team’s digital integration focus for AM objectives.

“There are multiple digital transformation assets and we'll be using Enterprise Product Lifestyle Management (ePLM) and the Joint Technical Data Integration (JTDI) website for our source of truth, our repository, and for each node data,” Robbins said.

“We also discussed collaborations with the Marines and how they utilize the Technical Data Package (TDP) so we can get those parts over to the ship as well, and that also includes the Digital Manufacturing Environment (DME), which in a sense, is a network on the ship with a firewall connection,” he added.

With their sights set squarely on continuing advancement, it only makes sense that the SEA05 team is currently using the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to drive innovation through industry. (Per the Maritime Sustainment Technology Innovation Consortium (MSTIC) website the OTA is a “streamlined purchasing vehicle that brings innovative research findings and state-of-the-art prototypes from industry to the federal government.”)

“The beauty of using the OTA is once we get the extended white papers, we'll have some opportunity to put proposals in the basket so that we can evaluate them at a later time. We will then have opportunities to suggest collaborations between consortium members,” Violante said. “So, it's going to enable us an opportunity to have direct interaction to help mature the technology and the direction that makes sense for NAVSEA.”

NSWCPD employs approximately 2,800 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.