DefenseMaritime IndustryUK

Royal Navy set to leverage 3D printing for production of spare parts

The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a £383,000 contract for two advanced 3D metal printers

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According to the UK Defence Journal, the UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a contract for two advanced 3D metal printers as part of an effort to enhance its logistical and manufacturing capabilities. Valued at £383,000, the contract was secured with Additive X of Ripon and spans from 14 March 2024 to 30 March 2030. This procurement is part of a broader effort to modernize the tools and technologies at the disposal of the Royal Navy, particularly to address challenges associated with obsolescence and the availability of critical components.

The printers are designated for Her Majesty’s Naval Bases (HMNB) Devonport and Portsmouth and are aimed at enhancing the Forward Support Unit’s ability to rapidly design and produce metallic items, moving beyond the limitations of previous polymer-based manufacturing processes.

According to the Ministry of Defence contract notice, the printers are expected to significantly advance the MoD’s manufacturing capabilities: “The AdM machine must have the capacity to manufacture metallic items… able to manufacture parts up to 250mm x 183mm x 150mm, not exceeding 10Kg. It must have the capacity to manufacture from stainless steel (eg 17-4 PH), tool steel (eg H13-A2, D2), Inconel 625 (or equivalent), and Copper.” This technology features “a 2 nozzle print system with metal and release materials,” and includes “separate wash and sintering machines.”

The primary application of these printers is detailed within the contract description: “Forward Support Unit (B&C) have a requirement to increase capability to design and manufacture metallic items using AdM as existing polymer manufacturing severely restricts the scope of this technology… This organic capability would save significant costs to upkeeps/FTSPs by offering a quick manufacturing capability for obsolescent or temporarily unavailable stores items.”

Part of the contract includes a comprehensive training and support plan – ensuring that Royal Navy personnel can effectively utilize this new technology. The contract specifies that “The supplier, or their representative, shall provide comprehensive training in the use and maintenance of the printing machine and software applications as part of the machine Set to work, onsite at HMNB Devonport and Portsmouth, 4 personnel at each site, totaling 8 combined.”

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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