The US Navy has equipped the warship USS Bataan with a 3D metal printer. In an initial practical test, the crew was able to use it to successfully manufacture and repair a defective component themselves. According to the US Navy, this is proof of the great potential of 3D printing.
On board the “USS Bataan,” a nozzle of a saltwater outlet valve was defective. Normally, a completely new replacement part would have to be shipped in to make the repair. Instead, the crew modeled and printed a new nozzle themselves using the new 3D printing facility. The Navy calls it a success that increases independence for repairs.
The Phillips Additive Hybrid 3D printer can process metal parts both additively and subtractively. The machine has a Meltio3D Laser Metal Wire Deposition Head installed, as well as a “Haas TM-1” CNC milling machine. According to Navy, this allows waste to be reduced. To design the replacement part, the crew received assistance from Navy engineers ashore.
The 3D printer was used in a collaboration between the Navy and the technology office NAVSEA. NAVSEA manager Jason Lloyd says it’s a breakthrough that ships can now print parts themselves. He said the technology is to be used on a large scale.
For the U.S. Navy, the success on the “USS Bataan” shows that 3D printing can increase the operational capability of warships. Especially on the high seas, the Navy is often left to its own devices. Independent parts production enables faster responses to defects and failures.