Shipbuilder sees big potential in 3D-printed carrier part


US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) recently approved the first metal part created by additive manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing) for shipboard installation, and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) sees long-term potential for ship construction, maintenance, and logistics if the 3D-printed part installation and operation proves successful.

A prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly will be installed on US aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) in fiscal year 2019 for a one-year test-and-evaluation trial, NAVSEA confirmed on 11 October. The DSO assembly is a steam system component that permits drainage/removal of water from a steam line while in use.

The valve-like component, which is about the size of a coffee mug, could revolutionise shipbuilding, outfitting, and repairing, according to shipyard officials.

Newport News Shipbuilding is investing in 3D printing technology. (Newport News Shipbuilding)Newport News Shipbuilding is investing in 3D printing technology. (Newport News Shipbuilding)

“Our first focus is on trying to tackle some of the challenging manufacturing problems,” Don Hamadyk, NNS director of research and development, told Jane’s. “If it’s possible to reduce cost and [the] schedule of things like large castings, if that’s possible, then we may have found a really good fit.”

In introducing the new process, though, the shipyard and navy are starting small.

“There are a lot of ways to try to harvest and adopt this technology,” Hamadyk said. “Our approach right from the beginning has been to start with one material, one process and one application and see it through, at least into the mainstream approval and insertion.”

The one material is a type of stainless steel, Hamadyk said. “Because of the business we’re in, we’re focused on ‘marine metals.’”

Lynn Showalter, a welding engineer at NNS who has been at the shipyard for 34 years, said the 3D printed part was superior to a traditional one.

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Shipbuilder sees big potential in 3D-printed carrier part