U.S. Navy moves to additive manufacturing at shipbuilding division

The two companies have partnered to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships.

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3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) is collaborating with Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division to qualify metal additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) technologies to build naval warships. Newport News Shipbuilding is the sole designer, builder, and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines. Through this collaboration, it will move portions of its manufacturing process from traditional methods to additive manufacturing, anticipating enhanced production rates of high-accuracy parts with reduced waste, and potential for significant cost savings over other traditional production processes.

Related: 3D Systems to make next-gen components for U.S. Air Force

The first milestone in this agreement was achieved with 3D Systems delivering and installing a ProX DMP 320 3D metal printer at Newport News Shipbuilding's site. Newport News plans to use this system—designed for precision metal 3D printing—to produce marine-based alloy replacement parts for castings, valves, housings, and brackets for future nuclear-powered warships. With the metal printer as the foundation, the companies are already developing new additive manufacturing technologies to further enhance part production.

3D Systems has contributed additive manufacturing expertise to the U.S. Navy for decades, with 3D printing being used for everything from aircraft parts to submersible components. This particular collaboration with Newport News Shipbuilding marks the culmination of joint R&D efforts to qualify metal additive manufacturing to build components for nuclear-powered naval vessels.

"Newport News Shipbuilding is leading the digital transformation to further revolutionize how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships," said Charles Southall, vice president of engineering and design at Newport News Shipbuilding. "With the inclusion of the ProX DMP 320 into our manufacturing workflow, this marks the first metal 3D printer installed at a major U.S. Navy shipyard. With this disruptive technology, Newport News has the potential to reinvent shipbuilding."

3D Systems' digital manufacturing ecosystem is comprised of plastic and metal 3D printers, print materials, on-demand manufacturing services, and end-to-end manufacturing software solutions. Combinations of these products and services address a variety of advanced applications, ranging from aerospace, automotive, and consumer goods to medical, dental, and jewelry.

For more information, please visit www.3dsystems.com and www.ns.huntingtoningalls.com.

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