DefenseMaritime IndustryMetal Additive Manufacturing

NAVSEA approves first metal 3D printed part for testing aboard aircraft carrier

The 3D printed assembly will be installed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in 2019 for further evaluation

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NAVSEA, the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, has announced the approval of the first 3D printed metal component for shipboard installation. The part in question, a prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly, will be installed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in 2019.

Once it is installed, the metal DSO part will undergo a one-year testing and evaluation trial. Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) was the company that proposed installing the assembly on an aircraft carrier ship for testing.

The part itself is a steam system component that enables water to be drained and removed from a steam line while it is in use. At this stage, the part has been approved based on a number of functional and environmental tests it successfully completed, including material, welding, shock, vibration, hydrostatic and operational steam testing.


Once installed on the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, the 3D printed metal part will be further evaluated within the context of a low temperature and low pressure saturated steam system. As stated, this evaluation period will take about a year, after which the DSO part will be removed for analysis and inspection.

Similar to other additive manufacturing investigations in the shipbuilding industry, NAVSEA believes that the technology could create possibilities for manufacturing replacement or spare parts on-demand.

Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, NAVSEA chief engineer and deputy commander for ship design, integration and naval engineering, elaborated: “This install marks a significant advancement in the Navy’s ability to make parts on demand and combine NAVSEA’s strategic goal of on-time delivery of ships and submarines while maintaining a culture of affordability. By targeting CVN-75 [USS Harry S. Truman], this allows us to get test results faster, so—if successful—we can identify additional uses of additive manufacturing for the fleet.”

Despite the DSO’s approval being a first, the U.S. Navy has been utilizing additive manufacturing for several years. Up until recently, however, the focus has primarily been on using it to prototype parts. The more recent exploration of AM’s potential for producing metal parts for naval systems is already proving fruitful though, as proven with the approval of the DSO assembly.

“Specifications will establish a path for NAVSEA and industry to follow when designing, manufacturing and installing AM components shipboard and will streamline the approval process,” added Dr. Justin Rettaliata, technical warrant holder for additive manufacturing.  “NAVSEA has several efforts underway to develop specifications and standards for more commonly used additive manufacturing processes.”

NAVSEA is the largest of the U.S. Navy’s five systems commands. Its primary mandate is to engineer, build, purchase and maintain the Navy’s fleet of ships, submarines and combat systems.

Earlier this year, 3D Systems partnered with Huntington Ingalls Industries—Newport News Shipbuilding to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies for nuclear-powered naval warships. Even more recently, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy teamed up to research additive manufacturing machine learning for industrial manufacturing.

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