3D Printed Components to be Utilized by U.S. Navy in Upcoming Nuclear Submarines.


The U.S. Navy is making waves in the world of shipbuilding with the implementation of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. This cutting-edge technology is being used to enhance the operational effectiveness of the Navy’s fleet by speeding up construction times, reducing supply chain reliance, and making faster deliveries. The latest development in this initiative involves HII Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat implementing additive manufacturing on the fleet’s new Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

The Virginia-class submarines are an icon of the U.S. Navy and are known for their advanced intelligence equipment, battle group support, and mine warfare capabilities. The goal of this project is to design a submarine that has shorter production times and is more advanced in materials and capabilities than its predecessor, the Los Angeles-class. One of the key advancements being made is the use of marine alloys such as copper-nickel as an alternative building material to traditional metals.

The specific part targeted for 3D printing on the Virginia-class submarine is the deck drains. These drains are responsible for moving water from one location to another aboard the sub. Working in collaboration with manufacturing supplier AMMCON, HII and General Dynamics Electric Boat tested the 3D printed drains and found them to be successful in terms of strength and cost-effectiveness. As a result, these 3D printed drains have been installed on the USS Oklahoma, which is currently under construction. This success suggests that this technology could be implemented in the production of the rest of the Virginia-class submarines.

Newport News Shipbuilding Vice President of Engineering and Design, Dave Bolcar, commented on the project, stating that they are actively looking for ways to incorporate additive manufacturing into mainstream shipbuilding. To support this initiative, the Navy has approved proposals to streamline the approval process for “low-risk” 3D-designed parts for use in their vessels. This effort showcases the technology’s potential in significantly reducing lead times for critical components.

The U.S. Navy’s adoption of additive manufacturing in their shipbuilding process is an exciting development that could revolutionize the industry. By utilizing 3D printing technology, they are able to enhance their operational capabilities, reduce costs, and expedite construction times. What do you think of this latest addition to the Navy’s shipbuilding process? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media channels.

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