WEST BETHESDA, Md. –
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division officially opened the Manufacturing, Knowledge and Education (MAKE) Lab, an open-access additive manufacturing (AM) space for all its employees, March 24.
The grand opening kicked off in the Maritime Technology Information Center auditorium with remarks by NSWCCD Commanding Officer Capt. Richard Blank; NSWCCD Technical Director Dr. Tim Arcano; and AM Tiger Team members Caroline Scheck, deputy AM Tiger Team lead; Jonathan Hopkins; and Michael Britt-Crane.
“This is a collaborative space for everyone at Carderock to use to be innovative, develop new prototypes and work together to support the Navy mission,” said Mike Brown, head of the Survivability, Structures, Materials and Environmental Department (Code 60). “Rolling out this lab was done in a very thoughtful way by the AM Tiger Team. They’ve had to develop training for the machines, organize the laboratory and figure out how people would come on board and use the technology. I want to thank them for all the work and long hours they’ve put in to set this up.”
Blank said the MAKE Lab is appropriately named, because Carderock Division will use it to further all the concepts in its title.
“It’s going to be a learning tool for people. It’s also going to be a great manufacturing tool – it’s the future. And it’s going to be educating people on how to improve things and make them better,” Blank said.
After the ribbon cutting in the Lab, the AM Tiger Team hosted tours to show their fellow employees the printers in the new space, how the printers function and how reserving time on them will work. The new MAKE Lab is opening with 12 consumer and prosumer-level AM printers; AM describes processes that create objects layer-by-layer.
“Additive manufacturing has been in use across Carderock for well over a decade,” Scheck said. “This lab is designed for people to learn about the technology and is a great addition to the existing production-grade printers in the Model Fabrication Facility. It gets people exposed to the basics so they can start to make informed decisions about the types of printers, materials and design aspects that might make the most sense for their application.”
In touring the space, Jim Higgins, head of Code 63’s Environmental Quality Division, said he was impressed by the technology, expected to take the training and participate himself, and saw applications for AM in his division’s work. “In my division we work on solid and liquid waste management,” Higgins said. “There could be situations where you have an immediate short-term need for a part for your plastic waste processor or your pulper used in liquid waste management – I can see where you could use this capability. It probably has applications to help enable lithium battery safety certification, which we are responsible for. The speed and accessibility of this is really what I see as the greatest advantage. If you have a drawing and something you want made, this is the place to do it.”
AM Tiger Team member Jonathan Hopkins, who is leading the MAKE Lab effort, said this technology will also create new opportunities for the command’s STEM outreach programs. With the MAKE Lab, the AM Tiger Team can change the way students think and approach design and manufacturing, just as the team will do with their colleagues at Carderock. “Designing for AM takes a different approach,” Hopkins said. “The MAKE Lab will enable our workforce to explore methods of manufacturing while encouraging networking and sparking innovation.”
Arcano praised the members of the AM Tiger Team and former Carderock employee Dr. Jennifer Wolk, now at the Office of Naval Research, for their work in making this happen.
“This is a chance to unleash that innovative spirit in each of your technical areas,” he said. “And we have this unique community of experts across all the codes. You solve the Navy’s toughest problems. Hopefully, this tool – this MAKE Lab – will be a tool to set you on a trajectory to be able to solve these problems even better.”