MAY 1, 2015, WEST BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) – Self-sustaining ships, artificial limbs and even printed food topped the list of discussion topics this week as Navy leadership explored the implementation of 3D printing for the fleet.
Nearly 200 engineers, scientists and 3D-printing practitioners discussed Navy applications of additive manufacturing (AM), often referred to as 3D printing, at the Naval Additive Manufacturing Technical Interchange (NAMTI) at Naval Surface Warfare Center – Carderock, April 28-30.
“This is not as far off as you think,” said Vice Adm. Philip H. Cullom, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, in his keynote address. “Soon there will be no physical tether to the supply chain. People thought the same about the early days of nuclear power.”
Cullom ended his address by having the entire audience stand so he could designate them as Navy AM Plank Owners. “The future of the naval force is in your hands,” he said.
The group also heard from other senior leaders on their vision and implementation plans for AM.
“We need to focus on those things that make progress,” said Dr. Thomas Killion, director of Technology, Office of Naval Research. Killion participated in the AM Vision panel, together with Vice Adm. David Dunaway, commander of Naval Air Systems Command, and Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, deputy commander, Ship Design, Integration and Naval Engineering, Naval Sea Systems Command. Dunaway asked the group to “dump their small rice bowls into one big one,” and called on the group to form “a government consortium to get our heads around requirements.”
Fuller asked the group to explore the “judiciousness management of risk,” taking aspects of both physical and digital risks into consideration while maintaining engineering expertise and technical excellence.
The panel agreed a Navy AM way ahead, which is one of the ongoing efforts of NAMTI, needs to be developed. Killion called a plan the key to future success. The panelists encouraged the group to continue their collaboration after the event and to reach out to other services, industry and academia in future collaboration efforts.
In addition to the leadership panels, the 2015 NAMTI held several focused breakout sessions to tackle specific issues that included lifecycle management, qualification and certification, and workforce development. The group also advanced several science and technology efforts which began during the first meeting in 2014. The participants will continue to work on ideas developed this week in smaller, focused forums in the coming months.