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AML3D pursues CuNi qualification for submarines with $1.01M DoD contract

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AML3D, an Australia-based company specializing in large-scale metal Wire Additive Manufacturing (WAM), has received a purchase order worth $1.01 million from the U.S. Department of Defense. The contract, which was signed with BlueForge Alliance—a nonprofit integrator that supports the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base—is centered on the testing and qualification of Copper-Nickel (CuNi) alloys for DoD applications.

The purchase order comes less than a year after AML3D signed a contract with BlueForge Alliance to develop a 3D printed replacement part for U.S. Navy submarines. The part in question, a non-safety-critical component made from Nickel-Aluminum-Bronze (NAB) alloy, had become challenging to source from traditional manufacturers. The newly signed purchase order will enable AML3D to continue testing and qualifying 3D printed Copper-Nickel (CuNi) alloys following a successful characterization of a CuNi alloy as part of the U.S. Navy’s submarine qualification program in September 2023. The ultimate aim of the funding is to accelerate and streamline the procurement of future CuNi testing contracts.

AML3D Submarine DoD contract

While specific use cases for the 3D printed alloy have not yet been disclosed, the metal alloy is vital in maritime applications thanks to its exceptionally high corrosion resistance. For example, CuNi is used to make pipes that transport seawater, and has applications in the production of lubrication systems and high-pressure air systems in submarines. CuNi has also become something of a “trending” material in the AM industry, with many end users eager to leverage the material’s unique properties. Notably, ADDMAN Group recently entered into a qualification project with the U.S. Navy focused on CuNi components for submarine fittings. And in February 2024, EOS announced the the commercial launch of EOS CopperAlloy CuNi30 for laser powder bed fusion targeted at maritime applications.

Sean Ebert, AML3D Managing Director, said of the recent contract: “Our continuing work testing and qualifying a range of alloys for the US Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base is designed to show how AML3D’s ARCEMY metal 3D printing technology can be deployed to solve a variety of time, cost and supply chain challenges. Working across a range of alloys in support of the US Defence sector is also expected to highlight how ARCEMY could be deployed to support additional, globally significant Defence markets, such as those of the AUKUS Alliance partners, Australia and the UK.”

AML3D will kick off this new contract by purchasing CuNi wire feedstock supplies using $0.2 million from the purchase order. The company is also in the process of wrapping up the aforementioned Nickel-Aluminum-Bronze alloy testing program for the U.S. Navy submarine program—a project AML3D says has given it a good understanding of the U.S. DoD’s requirements for alloy qualification. It goes without saying that AML3D is aiming for successful CuNi qualification on its ARCEMY metal 3D printing platform, as it would lead to more large-scale metal defense applications for the company—and metal LFAM more generally. AML3D’s WAM technology is already in use in defense settings, including at the US Navy’s Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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