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Huntington Ingalls Enters Partnership for 3D Printing

Logos from Newport News Shipbuilding and 3D Systems were fabricated during a demonstration of the new 3-D printer. (Photo by John Whalen/HII)

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Huntington Ingalls Industries announced it has partnered with a company specializing in 3D printing technologies in a move that aims to transform naval shipbuilding in the U.S.

Huntington Ingalls' Newport News Shipbuilding division will work with 3D Systems to develop additive manufacturing technologies expected to accelerate the adoption of metal 3D printing for building components of U.S. warships.

The joint effort, which comes amid a significant technological transformation underway at Newport News, is expected to support future qualification and certification programs necessary to implement this advanced manufacturing technology for the U.S. Navy and further revolutionize how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships.

Through this collaboration, the shipbuilder will move portions of its manufacturing process from traditional methods to additive, anticipating enhanced production rates of high accuracy parts with reduced waste, and potential for significant cost savings over other traditional production processes.

"This is a game-changing and disruptive technology for our industry," said Charles Southall, Newport News' vice president of engineering and design. "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."

As part of the joint development agreement, 3D Systems delivered and installed the ProX DMP 320 high-performance metal additive manufacturing system at Newport News. The state-of-the-art machine is capable of making three-dimensional, marine-based, alloy parts for castings or other fabricated parts, such as valves, housings and brackets.

"3D Systems is pleased to play an integral role in transforming the naval shipbuilding industry," said Kevin McAlea, executive vice president and general manager, metals and healthcare, at 3D Systems. "The ProX DMP 320 printer system, combined with our team's expertise in metal 3-D printing technology, will bring new digitally enhanced geometries to Newport News Shipbuilding, enabling higher performing warship components and ultimately more efficient cost-effective parts delivery to the U.S. Navy."

The partnership represents a significant step forward in the fabrication of components and material for future warships. Compared to traditional manufacturing methods that involve the conversion of raw materials into a finished product through subtractive processes, such as cutting or grinding metal, additive manufacturing involves the layer-by-layer fabrication of raw materials into a finished product.

"One of our goals is to provide leadership to our supplier base that will help accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing within our industry, which may improve efficiencies and quality," Southall said. "We look forward to working with key technology leaders, such as 3D Systems, to help to break down technology adoption barriers and advance additive manufacturing in our industry and supply chain."

May 10, 2018

 

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