Innovation is one of the leading focuses for the U.S. Department of the Navy, the enterprise coming together to find new ways to deliver on its mission of protecting America. Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) is charging forward to accelerate continuous process improvement and innovation in the world of metal 3-D printing, developing the Additive Manufacturing (AM) Center of Excellence (CoE) as a one-stop-shop for the shipyard and its customers to develop tools and parts in-house.
“The AM CoE is a space we’ve been planning and working to achieve since 2020,” said NNSY Technology and Innovation (T&I) AM CoE Project Manager and AM Lead Jessica Roberts. “Currently, the shipyard only has the ability to 3-D print with polymers and plastics; however, these new metal printers will be a game changer for what we can do at America’s shipyard. Our first metal printer, a smaller desktop MetalX machine, was installed mid-November, and we’ve already received multiple requests for metal prints. Long-term, these metal printers will be used to develop tools and end-use parts for our workforce, eventually including critical level prints so we can provide our mechanics and Sailors with the quality products they need while saving on cost and/or time. We’ll be able to identify a part, model it, print it, and get it approved and processed so it can be used inside the shops or onboard vessels. This will especially be huge in the acquisition of long-lead parts, obsolete parts, or parts with strange geometries – giving our workforce the control in getting what we need when we need it.”