U.S. Navy repairs Combat Equipment using 3D Printing

News from the 3D printing industry | 21 November 2021

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tries his hand at 3D mapping under the supervision of Cox. Photo via Rick Naystatt/SPAWAR.

U.S. Navy has been integrating Additive Manufacturing in the recent years to enable cost-effective, on-demand production of 3D printed metal parts, for use in maintenance, repair, and overhaul. The U.S.Office of Naval Research (ONR) stated :

“Aging naval platforms are being challenged by dwindling traditional sources of supply. In response to this need, the naval warfare centers, maintenance depots, and FRCS [Fleet Readiness Centres] plan to use additive manufacturing to produce small quantities of out-of-production or long lead-time metallic components.”

Recently the engineers from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), have used 3D printing to restore an important antenna that provides real time communication throughout naval combat operations.

Stephen Cox, Chief Engineer for the Reverse Engineering – Science and Technology for Obsolescence, Restoration and Evaluation (RESTORE) lab said,

“The RESTORE lab is a reverse engineering laboratory which uses a process that identifies a target obsolescence issue in a legacy system—usually a single-point-of-failure component or assembly—and creates a modern form, fit and function replacement, to support life-cycle-extension programs for legacy systems.”

The teams began with capturing the antenna’s geometry using 3D scanning, followed with its CAD model development capable of the full antenna range of motion. Cox has dubbed this process “as the Scan-to-CAD-to-Fab method.”

“The Scan-to-CAD-to-Fab method lowers the cost and increases the speed at which a unique product can be made. It also facilitates rapid changes and the product becomes better, faster, with each engineering cycle.”

For more information, please read the full article here.