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Huntington Ingalls Industries announced on 10 May that its Newport News Shipbuilding division has partnered with 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) to develop additive manufacturing technologies expected to accelerate the adoption of metal 3-D printing in the naval shipbuilding industry.

The joint effort is expected to support the future qualification and certification programmes necessary to implement this advanced manufacturing technology for the US Navy and further revolutionise how shipbuilders build the next generation of warships. It is also part of a significant technological transformation underway at Newport News, known as integrated Digital Shipbuilding (iDS).

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.

This is a game-changing and disruptive technology for our industry,” commented Newport News’ Vice President of Engineering and Design, Charles Southall. “In addition to our ongoing digital shipbuilding efforts, 3D 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. 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.”

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. This 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.

The ProX DMP 320 printer system, combined with our team’s expertise in metal 3D 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 US Navy,” added 3D Systems Executive Vice President and General Manager, Metals and Healthcare, Kevin McAlea.

Chuck Hull, 3D Systems’ Chief Technology Officer, Kevin McAlea and Charles Southall discuss how Newport News Shipbuilding plans to use additive manufacturing technology to produce parts for future warships. (Photo: John Whalen via Huntington Ingalls Industries)

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