Display at the unveiling of Newport News’ new 3D metal printer, May 2018 (HII)
The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has approved the first metal part created by 3-D printing for shipboard installation. A prototype, 3-D printed-metal drain strainer orifice for a steam line will be installed on the carrier USS Harry S. Truman for a one-year test and evaluation trial. The DSO assembly is a steam system component that allows the drainage of water from a steam line while in use. Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) proposed installing the prototype on an aircraft carrier for test and evaluation. “This install marks a significant advancement in the Navy’s ability to make parts on demand and combine NAVSEA’s strategic goal of on-time delivery of ships and submarines while maintaining a culture of affordability,” said Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, NAVSEA’s chief engineer. “By targeting [USS Harry S. Truman], this allows us to get test results faster, so — if successful — we can identify additional uses of additive manufacturing for the fleet.”
The prototype components passed all tests, including material, welding, shock, vibration, hydrostatic and operational steam, and will continue to be evaluated while installed in a low temperature and low pressure saturated steam system. After the test and evaluation period, the prototype assembly will be removed for analysis and inspection.
While the Navy has been using additive manufacturing technology for several years, the use of it for metal parts for naval systems is a newer concept. The Navy and HII used their traditional mechanical testing process to identify requirements and acceptance criteria for the parts. Final requirements are still under review.
“Specifications will establish a path for NAVSEA and industry to follow when designing, manufacturing and installing AM components shipboard and will streamline the approval process,” said Dr. Justin Rettaliata, technical warrant holder for additive manufacturing. “NAVSEA has several efforts underway to develop specifications and standards for more commonly used additive manufacturing processes.”
In May, HII announced a partnership with additive manufacturing firm 3D Systems to install and test a top-end 3D metal printer at Newport News. HII said that its first task would be to produce replacements for castings, valves, housings and brackets in marine-based alloys for nuclear-powered vessels. 3D Systems says that it is the first time a metal 3D printer has been added to the production workflow at a major U.S. Navy shipyard.
“In addition to our ongoing digital shipbuilding efforts, 3-D printing could transform our design standards, and this technology has the potential to be one of the most significant manufacturing innovations in our industry since we began building nuclear-powered ships in the 1950s,” said Charles Southall, Newport News’ vice president of engineering and design.