NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division is celebrating new 3D printing capabilities.
NNS partnered with 3D Systems to “christen” its first 3D metal printer Thursday morning.
“It will allow us to keep pace with technology and provide services to the Navy in a much more efficient and cost effect way no matter where they will be,” said Charles Southall, the vice president of engineering and design for Newport News.
The printer will allow them to produce marine-based alloy replacement parts for casting as well as valves, housings, and brackets for future nuclear-powered warships.
Southall, who also celebrated his 30th year to the date at the shipyard, said the printer shows just how much technology has changed over the decades.
Chuck Hall, the chief technology officer at 3D Systems, has also seen how 3D printing has grown.
He invented the printer in 1983 and said more people have recently become aware of the capabilities.
Usually used to produce plastic objects, this printer is metal and has been used for dental, health and the aerospace industries.
Teaming up with shipbuilders is a first for them.
“It’s pretty amazing, especially for us. Shipbuilding is a new field for us. We’re all manufacturing guys. We love to get involved in manufacturing, see how stuff is made, see how to improve how it’s made so it’s great for us to be here,” Hull said.
Among a number of firsts with the 3D printing, Newport News Shipbuilding developed, submitted, and obtained NAVSEA approval of the first metal additive manufacturing material qualifications plan within the U.S. Shipbuilding Industry.
They’re expected to install their first object onto a carrier by the end of the year.
Southall said the innovative use of the printer is bigger than just their company.
“It’s more than us. Shipbuilding is a team sport. It involves our partners and our suppliers. We’re pleased to be a part of that infrastructure, not just for us but for our Navy and our nation,” he said.