The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to put up a fabrication laboratory at the U.S. Navy’s Norfolk, Virginia-based ship maintenance center to train ship maintainers on fabrication tools.
DARPA will equip the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center fabrication lab with laser cutters, routers, three-dimensional printers, vinyl cutters and open-source digital design software, the agency said Thursday.
Gill Pratt, program manager in DARPA’s defense sciences office, said the agency intends for the training program, slated to begin operations in April, to help sailors design and build prototypes “that could be certified for wider fleet use.”
“Prototype component designs potentially could be shared digitally across the Navy, and perhaps result in fab labs being established in other military locations,” Pratt added.
MARMC Project Officer Lt. Todd Coursey said the Navy is working with DARPA to develop curriculum and certification to support the warfighters as part of the training program.
The Navy also plans to create “a condensed additive manufacturing workforce training curriculum that could be sourced to fleet and other Department of Defense personnel,” he added.
DARPA authorized the lab through the nonprofit organization Fab Foundation, which oversees the international Fab Lab Network, under the agency’s Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach Two program.