Va. – Is it possible to produce parts and equipment from scratch for Sailors –
aboard ships and on demand?
the Navy rush deliver parts and high-tech gear such as customized unmanned systems,
avionics components, and improvised explosive device detectors to its
we can,” say Navy officials and when Additive Manufacturing – also known as 3D
Printing – fully hits the Fleet, Sailors could receive their orders within a
substantially reduced time frame.
Sailors and Marines are already inventing new products, expanding the realm of
possibilities made real by 3D printing while saving time, resources, and
manufacturing will fundamentally change how we think, how we do business, the
cost variable, and how we make decisions," Dr. John Burrow, Deputy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation
told a gathering of 3D Printing exhibitors and visitors at the Department of
the Navy Additive Manufacturing Showcase April 20. "I think you are about
to see its operational and technical potential literally explode off the
Burrow and Navy officials look at that map, they envision a future with 3D
printers forward-deployed with Marines and installed aboard warships as well as
fact, Navy Supply Command is anticipating a paradigm shift that will enable
delivery of parts and equipment “just in time” to Sailors.
shift to integrate 3D Printing into the Navy’s supply strategy will ensure that
no request for a manufactured item will be left behind, according to Capt. Armen
Kurdian, Director of Engineering and Product Support for Navy Supply Command.
more, Sailors without a 3D printer or unable to make a product won’t have to
look far for support. Their command supply officers will be able to special order
parts and equipment for rapid production via 3D Printing.
manufacturing could bring about revolutionary changes to the Navy Supply
System, with an associated paradigm shift from the current order and stocking
system to implementation of just-in-time inventory," said Kurdian, after
the event, hosted by Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division. “It has the potential to move the point of
manufacture for hundreds of components and parts closer to the point of
many cases, the waiting time for an order could be reduced from months or weeks
to days or hours.
Burrow and more than 100 visitors perusing the exhibits at the University of
Mary Washington Dahlgren campus were clearly struck by the reality of 3D
Printing’s potential impact to the Fleet.
volume of creative and innovative ideas made feasible with 3D Printing is
astounding,” said Lynn Shoppell, an NSWC Dahlgren Division physicist who
coordinated the showcase. “The exhibitors demonstrated that their concepts for
increased technical capabilities, rapid prototyping, improved logistics
operations, and cost reduction initiatives are achievable with 3D Printing.
Participants also experimented with additive manufacturing technology research
a vantage point on stage during his keynote speech, Burrow could see 25 additive
manufactured projects rapidly 3D printed by government employees to solve
problems, reduce costs, reduce risk, and improve technical capabilities for the
he pointed to one project in the back of the auditorium.
can't put that on a ship or a submarine – it's for training,” said Burrow
regarding the Globe Valve Training Aid, 3D manufactured by NSWC Dahlgren
Division engineers based at Combat Direction Systems Activity in Dam Neck, Va. The
one-inch manual primary globe valve was built for classroom training at Norfolk
Naval Ship Yard. The valve mock-up is being used to familiarize engineers and
mechanics with valve operation and repair procedures.
significant because this same tool is used in a training classroom to give
Sailors or Marines an opportunity to tear it apart and put it back together,”
said Burrow. “The original system costs $50,000 but they built it for $500.
Identical, and that's significant. Start looking at these price differentials.
They are substantial.”
sponsored the event to explore innovative applications of additive
manufacturing that benefit the warfighter and to highlight its impact throughout
program lifecycles from early concepts, into component and system testing, and
Navy still has crucial engineering, business, and legal questions to answer,
however, before it can fully take advantage of additive manufacturing
capabilities. For example, how will acquisition program managers know that parts
produced via 3D printing match the specifications of the same parts produced
conventionally? How will supply officers
apply data rights and intellectual property laws? How will they handle orders
we don't manage and implement the business side of additive manufacturing
properly, we could fail to realize the full weight of the benefits it can bring
to the Department of Defense," cautioned Kurdian. "We will need to
develop new contracting strategies to exploit on demand or even automated IDIQ (indefinite
order, indefinite quantity] so that a Fleet user could put in a demand signal
for a particular component. An order would be transmitted through the supply
system to the most suitable geographic location where it could conceivably get
a 3-D machine printing that part without any human interaction from the moment
the demand signal is sent."
Exhibitors showcasing additive manufacturing
projects represented Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Research Laboratory, NSWC
Carderock, NSWC Indian Head EODTD, NSWC Panama City, NSWC Dahlgren, Naval
Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Keyport, NUWC Newport, Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University Applied Research
Laboratory, and Walter Reed Medical Facility Department of Radiology.
Each participating organization developed,
designed, and fabricated components or complete systems using additive
manufacturing to directly benefit the warfighter.
In addition to the Globe Valve Training Aide, 3D
projects on exhibit included:
• Meso-scale Robotic Locomotion Initiative.
• Waterjets Utilized on Model-Scale Test Platforms for
Hydrodynamic Testing and Evaluation.
• Hierarchial and Multiscale Topology Optimization for
On-Demand Hand Tools.
• Tunable Metamaterial Hulls for Acoustically Cloakable
Uninhabited Underwater Vehicles.
• MK29 Helmet Modifications.
• Medium Girder Bridge Model Training Aid sets.
• Reinventing Unmanned Systems and System Performance
Selected submissions from the showcase at Dahlgren were on
exhibit at the Navy League’s 2016 Sea-Air-Space Exposition from May 16-18,