3D Systems announced it is collaborating with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division to develop Copper-Nickel (CuNi) and Nickel-Copper (NiCu) alloys for powder bed fusion additive manufacturing. These new materials could allow Newport News Shipbuilding to additively manufacture parts that are traditionally cast – reducing lead times by up to 75% to improve supply chain efficiency.
CuNi and NiCu are well-known alloys that are corrosion-resistant, which makes them ideal for marine applications. While parts produced with these metals possess high strength and toughness over a variety of temperatures, they must currently be produced using traditional casting methods. This requires long lead times – sometimes in excess of 12 months – and multiple suppliers. If these alloys could be formulated for use with metal 3D printing technologies, lead times for some of these parts could be reduced to a fraction of the traditional procurement time.
Through this materials development effort, 3D Systems is working with Newport News Shipbuilding to select the alloy composition, design the process parameter experiments, and qualify parts that include tensile and other material testing. With these new materials, Newport News Shipbuilding will use their metal AM system to produce replacement parts for castings as well as valves, housings, and brackets. With the successful use of these materials demonstrated, 3D Systems anticipates they will be added to its materials portfolio to address a breadth of applications where corrosion is a major concern such as oil and gas production and refining, and utility energy production.
In 2018, 3D Systems and Newport News Shipbuilding entered a joint development agreement to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships. At the time, 3D Systems delivered and installed a ProX DMP 320 – the predecessor to the company’s DMP Flex 350 – with the goal of moving portions of Newport News’ manufacturing process from traditional methods to additive. Developing new marine alloys for Newport News’ unique applications needs will allow them to continue expanding the role AM plays in their manufacturing workflow.