DefenseIndustrial Additive Manufacturing

think3D to provide expertise and 3D printed spare parts to the Indian Navy

A 3D printer will also be installed on a ship

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The issue of spare parts and replacement parts is a major issue for all defense forces, In particular, Indian 3D printing service provider think3D reports that this has been a major issue plaguing the Indian Navy. Many of the machines present in the Navy are very old and, in most cases, these machines were imported.

This has led to inconsistent and inadequate supply of spare parts, with long delays whenever a part gets damaged and needs to be replaced. Keeping the entire machine idle till the spare parts get replaced is costing Navy a lot. To solve this issue, the Indian Navy finally decided to turn to AM technologies to get the spare parts 3D printed and replaced on demand.

think3D has supplied various 3D printed spare parts to the Indian Navy and these spare parts are successfully tested and incorporated into several machines, in particular, to solve the Navy’s long-pending need for quick replacement of the centrifugal pump impellers on board the ships. In this particular case, think3D used 3D scanning to acquire the 3D data and HP’s multijet fusion technology 3D print the part.

A replacement impeller 3D printed using multijet fusion technology.

The settings were thoroughly analyzed and modified to print the part with desired mechanical properties. The part was then CNC machined and a metal bushing was inserted to create an interface between metal rod and plastic component. The part was then successfully tested in the real environment for the desired number of hours.

Now the other major issue being faced by the Indian Navy is parts undergoing damage when the ship is off-shore. In such scenarios, there is no way for the parts to be replaced on-demand. Either the parts are air-lifted to the ship or the ship is brought back to shore for fitting the parts. Both these scenarios are highly undesirable and cost a lot of time and money for the Indian Navy. To solve this major issue, think3D and the Indian Navy together deliberated an approach to have a 3D printer mounted on the ship with the CAD designs of the spare parts pre-loaded into the machine so that the operator can 3D Print the parts on-demand.

Due to the roll and pitch of the ship and constant vibration, operating a 3D printer on-board a ship has a different set of requirements than operating the same machine on-shore. think3D is now closely collaborating with the Indian Navy to develop a custom system to meet this demand.

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