Navy-Johns Hopkins APL Partnership Equips USS Bataan With Hybrid Metal 3D Printer

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A hybrid metal 3D printer was installed on a U.S. Navy ship for the first time through the collaboration of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the Naval Surface Force Atlantic and Naval Sea Systems Command Technology Office.

The additive and subtractive 3D printing system placed on the USS Bataan produces 316L stainless steel, a critical component in U.S. Navy ships, Johns Hopkins APL said Tuesday.

The equipment features Haas Automation’s TM-1 CNC milling machine and Meltio’s 3D wire-laser metal print head. It is capable of layer-by-layer material addition as well as selective material subtraction. It can also make ready-to-use parts or their prototypes using a Markforged X7 polymer-based printer installed by the team.

Engineers designed a data acquisition system to monitor the vessel’s movement or vibrations, which could affect production success. The printer also comes with a digital manufacturing environment that receives technical data packages developed by NAVSEA.

“The metal hybrid system installed on Bataan will improve ship self-sufficiency and enable the sailors to fabricate parts to keep systems operational,” said Scott Storms, NAVSEA 05T deputy program manager supporting the unit’s Additive Manufacturing Research and Development program. 

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