The Navy wants to give its ships at sea the capability of making parts as needed, something that not only will come in handy in emergency but would preclude the need to carry many spare parts that -- ideally -- never have to be used.
In September, the Navy expects to formally ask for proposals and will use the upcoming July 15 Industry Day to brief industry officials about what it's looking for and get them to think about how to improve existing 3D printing technology, ONR said in an announcement Monday.
"We're developing quality AM [additive manufacturing] metal processes for naval applications with titanium, aluminum and stainless-steel alloys," said Program Manager Billy Short. "Ideally, we would one day like to see additive manufacturing machines built that could be placed on vessels and perform well even in the toughest sea conditions, but that is another technical leap beyond this current program."
But ONR envisions the advances benefiting ground and aviation assets, as well, and Short said ONR will be looking for new ideas for the additive manufacture of critical metal-cast parts such as impellers, engine mounts and transmission housings.
Among the challenges the Navy faces for shipboard 3D manufacturing is materials storage.
"There are significant safety concerns," Lt. Ben Kohlman of the Chief of Naval Operations' Rapid Innovation Cell noted during a discussion of the technology last year. "The powder that's used in the aluminum or titanium is highly flammable."
All the briefings will be unclassified, but industry reps taking part must be U.S. citizens, according to the announcement.
The event will be held at the Stonegate 2 Conference Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
Additional information and registration may be found here.
-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.