GOOD NEWS: 3D Printing Technology Revolutionizes USS San Diego Operations Thanks to Xerox!

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Date: Wednesday May 1, 2024 03:55:16 pm
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  • jim

    GOOD NEWS: 3D Printing Technology
    Revolutionizes USS San Diego Operations Thanks to Xerox!

    The USS San Diego, an Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD 22), has recently embarked on a pioneering journey by integrating Xerox’s advanced ElemX liquid metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) machine into its operations. This strategic move marks the ship as the first in its class to adopt such cutting-edge technology for practical, operational use.

    The ElemX AM machine, which utilizes a liquid metal jetting process, has been installed within a 20-foot self-contained unit in the ship’s main vehicle stowage area. The primary objective of this technological advancement is to establish a robust additive manufacturing capability aboard L-Class ships. Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Garcia, a U.S. Marine and Combat Cargo Officer, emphasized the significance of this development. He stated that the AM technology is crucial for the naval force to implement self-help measures in engineering casualties and to address future landing force maintenance requirements, which are vital for projecting combat power during crisis response and contingency operations.

    One of the most compelling advantages of on-site liquid metal printing is its potential to bridge the supply chain gap between the manufacturer and the end-user. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Christopher Robertson highlighted the efficiency of the technology, noting that parts that would typically take months to procure could now be produced in mere hours.

    The air department sailors of the USS San Diego were among the first to receive training on the AM machine. The learning curve was reportedly straightforward, and the sailors have since been able to create various parts such as low-pressure air fittings, toggle pins, sound-powered phone caps, and flush deck nozzle covers. The technology not only fosters innovation but also demands precision and real-world engineering skills, as the sailors are required to reverse engineer parts, create 2D drawings and 3D models, and ensure the printed components integrate seamlessly into the ship’s systems.

    Looking ahead, the vision for the 3D printer is to reduce its size to make it a permanent workspace aboard L-Class ships. While the USS San Diego currently serves as the test bed for additive manufacturing in the fleet, there is an expectation that this technology will become a standard feature on all L-class ships, revolutionizing the way the Navy approaches maintenance and part production in forward-deployed or contested maritime environments.

    In April 2024, the Naval Postgraduate School took significant strides in establishing itself as a leader in additive manufacturing research and education for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Department of Defense. The institution is now poised to further advance AM technologies for defense applications, ensuring that the U.S. naval forces remain at the forefront of innovation and readiness.

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