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NEWS | June 15, 2021

Eye on Innovation: Norfolk Naval Shipyard Participates in Innovative HACKtheMACHINE Challenge

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va.

At Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), the workforce looks to push the boundaries of technology and ensure a more efficient Navy. Recently, representatives from America’s Shipyard gathered virtually with hundreds of others to solve some of the Navy’s most high-tech challenges in a prize challenge hosted by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) called “HACKtheMACHINE.”

The competition, broken down into three tracks, asked participants across the Navy enterprise, as well as those in the public and private sectors, to tackle challenges in maritime cybersecurity, data science, and additive manufacturing (AM) over the course of four days. The challenges were set to promote technological advancement and foster teamwork, strengthening the Navy through contributions from all who participated.

“This is the Navy’s premier digital experience,” said Fathom5 CEO Zachary Staples, who partnered with NAVSEA on the event. “The Navy maintains many digital threads interwoven to create national security for the nation and its allies. HACKtheMACHINE is an opportunity to take some of the problems the Navy is wrestling with and crowdsource solutions where it can benefit from a collective knowledge.”

This was the sixth iteration of HACKtheMACHINE with hundreds of participants joining from across the globe. NNSY was able to play a huge part in this year’s event thanks to the NAVSEA 04T sponsoring of Track 3, entitled “Heavy Metal.” “We worked with NAVSEA 05T, NNSY, and Fathom5 to develop Track 3 to solve our maintenance challenges, seeking solutions head-on,” said NAVSEA04TI AM Program Lead Dalia McGlone.

“Heavy Metal is a hybrid virtual and physical challenge that allows the Navy to tap into a wider and more diverse base of advanced manufacturing in this country and beyond,” said Staples. “Teams are offered the opportunity to produce a metallic 3-D printed part, converting an existing 2-D drawing into a 3-D technical package. The 3-D printed parts will be tested and evaluated to determine who the winner is. This challenge is tied to a real supply shortfall our Navy currently faces in our shipyards and the winning print could result in a contract with the Navy to meet those demands.”

                “Over the last several months, we've worked with an amazing team of talented individuals, all looking to bring innovation to our shipyard and beyond,” said Jessica Roberts, NNSY Innovation Program AM Lead . “Several people have played an integral role in bringing this idea to life, from Code 950 Non-Nuclear Continuous Training and Development Leader (CTDL) Jon Simmons, who first submitted the metal part for consideration, to the engineering direction to Chief Engineer Mark Everett, to the engineering support of Steve Popelka in Code 270 (Non-nuclear Electrical Engineering) and Frank Fatico in Code 277 (Non-Nuclear Power and Control Systems).”

“Heavy Metal” was broken down into one main challenge and two bonus competitions to provide a variety of ways teams could contribute. The main challenge, entitled “Light It Up,” invited teams to recreate a bracket that connects a light fixture to a stanchion. The part was originally produced in 1974 from aluminum alloy and teams were provided 2-D drawings that they could use to help develop their 3-D technical design package (TDP). Once their packages were submitted, teams would take time after the initial four days of HACKtheMACHINE to metal print the aluminum parts and submit them to undergo vibration and shock testing.

“Our efforts with HACKtheMACHINE greatly aligns with the Navy Additive Manufacturing Part Identification Exercise (NAMPIE) where we identify components that could be printed and installed shipboard or to support availability maintenance,” said McGlone. “This initiative was developed by NAVSEA to find ways to 3-D print parts for shipboard use – greatly reducing the amount of time it takes to acquire obsolete or long-lead-time parts. We will expand this across the naval shipyards and look for ways to bring additive manufacturing directly into the shops servicing our Fleet.”

Track 3 recently finalized shock and vibration testing and the winners were announced June 2 during a livestream event. Elementum 3D took third place for an aluminum Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) design, DM3D Technology took second place for their Direct Energy Deposition (DED) stainless steel submission, and I24 Supply Company took first place for their Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) Titanium print. In addition, the Naval Post Graduate School and PrintParts were acknowledged as Design Inspiration Awardees for their exceptional documentation and novel designs.

“NAVSEA was impressed with the diversity of solutions received and the performance of all of the parts during testing. Integrating this capability into our shipyards could help us exceed our commander’s objectives,” said McGlone. “We’ve been very excited to see all the designs that teams have come up with. This is definitely a huge win not only for the participants but for the NAVSEA AM group. At the Navy’s discretion, the winner(s) could be awarded a contract for the procurement of these parts. These parts could greatly benefit our naval team as a whole and keep us surging forward into an innovative future.”

Innovations created through HACKtheMACHINE could greatly benefit the future of the Navy and its goal  to bring innovative processes and technologies directly those who need it. “At sea, if I have a part fail – I need to be able to print as much of that part as I can while at sea,” said Rear Adm. Jason Lloyd, U.S. Navy, Naval Sea Systems Command, Chief Engineer and Deputy Commander for Ship Design, Integration and Naval Engineering. “If we are able to print the parts on the ship or submarine, we don’t need to store parts that we don’t normally use, freeing up space for other vital components. In addition, schedule-wise it’s a benefit to be able to print what I need when I need it – so we take care of what’s broken and get everything back in working order.”

“This is a pivotal time in history to take these technologies and move them faster from the idea and concept to an actual product in the hands of our people,” said Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Research. “Agility and speed are critical because technology is racing at a feverish pace. Our ability to consume that technology has slowed down and that’s not the case in other parts of the world. We’ve got to reinvent, reimagine our processes and changes.”

To learn more about HACKtheMACHINE and to view recordings of the event, visit https://www.hackthemachine.ai/home. For more information regarding innovation, contact the NNSY T&I Lab at 757-396-7180 or email the REAL Ideas program at NNSY_REALIdeas@navy.mil. To learn more about the AM Program, contact Roberts at Jessica.f.Roberts@navy.mil.