After a series of U.S. Navy tests to demonstrate the manufacturing and fabrication capabilities of 3D printing technology, the service will explore printing from metal and similar materials as it targets at-sea applications for the technology, Military Times reported Sunday.
Lance Bacon writes the Navy has sought a list of high-demand items, including Tomahawk cruise missile components and oil change and hydraulic equipment, as the branch’s operations and engineering centers take hold of the technology.
Bacon reports officials that attended last month’s “Print the Fleet” workshop at Combat Direction Systems Activity – Dam Neck were anticipating the technology to produce needed items quickly and at a lower cost even while deployed out at sea.
“If we had this capability right now, we could have our [technical directives] up to code in a matter of weeks,” said David Bracy, a senior chief logistics specialist (AW/SW) at Fleet Readiness Center Norfolk.
Dave Barrett, the Navy’s additive manufacturing initiative director for the chief of naval operations, said the service will set its implementation goals for the technology within the next year.
With the coming implementation, the Navy is trying to address concerns on material certifications, accreditation and copyrights and shipboard printing quality, the report said.
“A printer in a steady, climate-controlled environment is going to have a different result than a printer on a ship that is rocking and rolling,” said Capt. Jim Loper, Navy Warfare Development Command‘s head of concepts and innovation.
He indicated temperature control, humidity and vibration as factors that have to be considered.