Meltio and Phillips Corporation have worked together to install for the first time on a U.S. Navy ship a metal 3D printing solution for the onboard manufacture of spare parts and repairs. The Phillips Additive Hybrid powered by Haas took the laser metal deposition technology of Meltio and integrated it with the world-renowned Haas CNC vertical machining centers control mill onboard the USS Bataan ship.
This new project represents a further step towards demonstrating an industrially useful application in the marine sector thanks to the accessible wire-laser metal 3D printing technology developed by Meltio. Meltio collaborates with Haas on other hybrid system projects in other industries and in different countries. The Hybrid system provides subtractive and additive manufacturing. The U.S. Navy is using a combination of these in this particular project for the USS Bataan ship.
The equipment, installed under a joint effort between the Commander, the Naval Surface Force Atlantic, and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Technology Office, includes the Phillips Additive Hybrid system, which integrates a Meltio wire-laser metal deposition head on a Haas TM-1 computer numerical control mill. The Haas TM-1 platform has been proven to operate reliably in an afloat environment aboard several aircraft carriers. Integrating the Meltio deposition head with the Haas TM-1 provides both an additive and subtractive manufacturing capability within the same system — increasing efficiency and reducing waste when compared with typical machining.
The U.S. Navy advanced efforts to improve self-sufficiency for deployed ships and their crews and reduce supply chain lead times by leveraging additive manufacturing (AM) by permanently installing the first metal 3D printer aboard a ship. Thanks to additive manufacturing — commonly known as 3D printing — the engineers will join different materials to make parts from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing and formative manufacturing methodologies.
Whether creating a quality-of-life item or a sophisticated machine part, AM facilitates production at the point of need when time and operational availability matter.
“The introduction of additive manufacturing (AM) into naval operations supports readiness and self-sufficiency,” said Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
“These printers have the ability to help the Navy overcome both obsolescence issues for ships and systems that have service lives measured in decades and directly contribute to enhanced operational availability of our systems and ships,” said NAVSEA Chief Engineer Rear Adm. Jason Lloyd.
The Phillips Additive Hybrid system prints 316L stainless steel, a prevalent material in U.S. Navy ship systems. While stainless steel additive manufacturing onboard naval ships is new, it also represents an advancement in providing sailors with industrial-level manufacturing capabilities to print individual parts for systems that previously have not been readily available without procuring the entire system at a significantly greater cost.
The Meltio’s Engine 3D printing benefits are twofold — it maximizes operational availability and reduces the demand on traditional and Navy-specific supply chains. Additionally, NAVSEA engineers installed a second 3D printer to produce polymer (plastic) components onboard Bataan. This printer enables the ship’s crew to print any of the NAVSEA-developed 300+ AM Technical Data Packages that define the required design configuration and procedures to manufacture a part and ensure it performs properly.