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U.S. Navy, ORNL Join Forces to 3D Print a Proof-of-Concept Submersible

3D printing can prove to be a cost-effective resource for militaries across the globe and they have been testing the idea to create replacement parts and even meals for their soldiers. The United States Navy teamed up with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to 3D print something much bigger than a replacement part. It has 3D printed a submersible as a proof-of-concept in less than four weeks.

A team from the Naval Surface Warfare Center and Carderock Division’s Disruptive Technology Laboratory developed this 3D printed submersible. It’s called the Optionally Manned Technology Demonstrator and is based on a submersible that the SEALs are currently using.

Work on this project started in August last year and since it’s a pretty big vessel, they had to use an industrial 3D printer called Big Area Additive Manufacturing to print six sections out of carbon fiber. The sections were then assembled to create this 30 foot long vessel.

The team had four weeks to develop the hull so they spent the first week in design and then started printing the components in the following week. It now happens to be the largest 3D printed asset of the United States Navy.

A conventional hull can take up to five months to manufacture and may cost up to $800,000, according to the Department of Energy. This 3D printer hull was 90 percent cheaper and produced in less than a month.

Since this is a proof of concept vessel it’s not functional but it goes to show that it’s indeed possible to print such massive creations. It’s expected that fleet-capable prototypes of the 3D printed vessels could be launched by 2019.

Navy 3D Prints First Submersible Hull


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