3D Printing Now Finds its Way to Spare Parts at Sea

3D printing is progressively finding its way into all kinds of technical applications. Spare parts for ships will soon be printed onboard to safeguard against minor breakages and issues, solving the long-standing problem of not being able to find replacements for warships in the middle of a journey. The U.S. Navy recently placed fabrication labs onboard two Navy ships fighting against the Islamic State – the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the assault ship USS Kearsarge.


Source: 3Ders

Wrenches and custom dust caps are among the first objects to be 3D printed on the ships, with a 3D printed oil cup being devised by a sailor onboard. And there has been a steady inflow of ideas, with innovations continuously happening with the printers. With two 3D printers and a computer system, sailors are able to design components of their own using CAD software in Navy “Fab Labs”. While the sailors are able to produce small devices on the ship, they can also design larger components with designated CAD software that can be 3D printed ashore and then delivered to ships.


Source: 3Ders

Aboard the two warships, the 3D printing installation was an experiment that seems to have taken off. The machines were only installed in the last minute. When the ships return from duty, the Navy will have to evaluate the benefits of the Fab Labs on the ships as against their costs. Sailors have been generous in their positive feedback, proving 3D printing’s utility in wide-ranging applications. The day when 3D printers will be found in just about every ship does not seem too far in the future.

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Lucky Balaraman

Executive Director, The Magnum Group

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