NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla., - —
The Secretary of the Navy’s Task Force Innovation funded the new fabrication laboratory, or “Fab Lab,” delivered to SERMC last month. The idea came from the successful prototype Fab Lab at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) in Norfolk, Va., which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2015 through the MENTOR2 program.
The goal of MENTOR2 is to reduce logistics supply chain costs and boost defense readiness by improving training and tools for operating, maintaining and adapting complex military equipment in low-tech environments, such as fixing ship systems at sea.
“The experimental lab will allow our deckplate Sailors to improve their capabilities by exposing them to and training them on newer technology,” said Machinery Repair Senior Chief Tarah Horney, facilitator for the SERMC Fab Lab.
“One of my hopes is by exposing Sailors to some of the upcoming and newer methods of fabrication, it will encourage them to become more innovative out in the Fleet, and get them thinking a little ‘outside of the box,’” Horney said.
Equipped with modern tools and equipment including laser cutters, routers, and 3D printers, Sailors here could manufacture high-demand, low-supply parts, or create unique components much faster and at a lower cost than is possible today.
SERMC’s hosting of Fab Lab places technology where it needs to be: with skilled machine tool operators who share curious and innovative personalities.
“Right now, the tentative timeline is to begin conducting training workshops on the use of the equipment,” Horney said. “The Fab Lab is a place for learning and mentoring and hopefully sparking innovation.”