US Navy 3D Metal Printer

Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) onloads a 3D metal printer . (U.S. Navy photo by Ace Rheaume)

US Navy Tests New 3D Parts Printer

GCaptain
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July 11, 2022

A new 3D parts printer is being tested by the US Navy. A 3D aluminum printer was installed last week on the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“Having this printer aboard will essentially accelerate, enhance and increase our warfighting readiness,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nicolas Batista, an aircraft maintenance officer aboard the USS Essex. “The capabilities of the 3D printer will enable Essex to become more self-sufficient.”

Batista stated this 3D printer, is one of the fastest printers on the market, capable of fabricating and printing aluminum up to 10” by 10”. Many standard components may be created on the ship including heat sinks, housings, fuel adapters, bleed air valves, valve covers, and more.

US Navy 3D Printer
A 3D printer conducts a diagnostic run aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), July 9, 2022. Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Isaak Martinez)

The next step is to train the sailors who will use the equipment. 

While Essex has had the capability to manufacture small items needed on the ship, Aviation Electronics Technician Jonah Waage said, “We have never been able to make something with the precision and intricacy that this new 3D printer will provide which is important because it will contribute to saving time and money for our Navy in the long run.”

Dan Porter, a Xerox technician, left and Andrew Wong, right, Emergency Ship Salvage Material (ESSM) conduct diagnostics on a 3D printer aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), July 9, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Isaak Martinez)

“Additive Manufacturing (AM) has become a priority,” said Batista. “AM will provide a greater posture in warfighting efforts across the fleet and will enhance expeditionary maintenance that contributes to our Surface Competitive Edge.”

During testing and evaluation at sea, a team aboard Essex will create various shipboard aluminum items with the 3D printer and provide feedback to Navy Postgraduate School.

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