CRANE, Ind. – Engineers at the Crane Division’s Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC Crane) used funds from Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) to provide hands-on training to seafarers at sea.

A Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA 05T) team, including staff from NSWC Carderock and NSWC Philadelphia, installed additive manufacturing (AM) technology on board naval vessels and submarines. This team led the research and development initiative (R&D) from 2018.

By 2020, eight ships have received installations of this technology. AM is the process of joining materials to create parts from three-dimensional (3D) model data, usually layer by layer.

After a recent installation of AM technology, NSWC crane engineers Eric St. Ours and Dr. Steven Seghi spent two weeks with sailors as the USS Boxer (LHD-4) sailed from San Diego to Pearl Harbor. St. Ours and Dr. Seghi used NISE funds to provide additional hands-on training for seafarers aboard the US Navy amphibious assault ship. By using the funds, they were also able to provide thorough training to more sailors on board.

“We have significantly increased the total number of training sessions the sailors received on board during these two weeks,” says St. Ours. “We offered AM and CAD (Computer Aided Design) training courses that gave sailors the skills and best practices needed to design and print the parts they need on board the ship. “

The Department of Defense (DOD) additive manufacturing strategy states, “AM is a form of digital manufacturing that relies on 3D models and simulations to create custom solutions. The transformation of the construction process from design-build-test to model-analysis-build The methodology is made possible by rapid prototyping and the unique manufacturing capabilities of AM. “

It goes on to say: “The use of virtual environments, the creation of a” digital twin “for production to improve production processes and to maintain suitable databases as part of a model-based company will support future material readiness.”

The two-week training material for the Sailors included: identifying ideal candidate parts, designing parts in CAD, best practices for designing parts to be created with AM, general use and maintenance of 3D printers, identifying the risk associated with a part, and Submission for parts approval in accordance with established NAVSEA guidelines.

Applied to a variety of parts aboard a ship such as the USS Boxer, AM is a tool that can save the crew time and money on equipment. AM can be used to create buttons, handwheels, various caps and more, as well as creating plastic parts that may offer more temporary solutions until they can access more permanent parts on land.

For example, the seafarers on board used AM technology and the lessons learned to reconstruct a small plastic cap on ship washing and drying machines.

“There was a plastic locking tab that would break easily,” says St. Ours. “Unfortunately, you can’t buy the tab yourself, you have to buy a brand new machine. After the sailors were trained, they could easily design and print a solution to repair the dryers. You saved five dryers, which is about five thousand dollars in savings. We were able to provide them with the necessary knowledge and tools, but they took it from there and developed the solution without our help. “

According to Dr. Seghi was extremely valuable to the people on board with the crane team’s technical AM experience.

“Eric and I are not the only people with AM knowledge, but we have a number of AM experiences that we were able to share on board. Another success factor was that the maintenance officer on the ship was all-in. He developed an implementation plan and framework to streamline the process in the backend, and this process improvement limited the possibilities for things to be overlooked. “

Dr. Seghi says the two week training was a complete, thorough process and enabled an agile implementation.

“From identifying the parts to creating them, we’ve helped sailors equip themselves with the knowledge to solve a variety of challenges at sea,” says Dr. Seghi.

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The Warfare Center is responsible for supporting technologies and systems that enhance the capabilities of today’s warfighter across multiple domains, multiple spectrums, and the entire life cycle.

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