US Navy Opens Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence

The US Navy has opened its Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in a formal ceremony featuring the Virginia Governor and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as Navy officials and industry partners. The Center will be based in the State of Virginia’s Center for Manufacturing Advancement on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. It will feature three bays to accelerate the use of additive manufacturing and scale it for big picture use. It will also be possible to streamline the supply chain for Navy use and the Center will serve as an operational hub. 

The ceremony featured the Virginia Governor, Glenn Youngkin, who opened the occasion with a speech:

 “This partnership will diversify, transform and grow Southern Virginia’s production capability for the Submarine Industrial Base as well, marking another major win for Virginia’s defense economy and labor market”.

Youngkin’s recognizes the link between additive manufacturing and increased manufacturing potential, and his reference to the labor market implies the possibility of job creation as a result of 3D printing at the Center. Certainly, 3D printing has been shown to have high productivity, as parts can be manufactured more quickly and with less waste than traditional methods. For example, it will soon be used by the UK Ministry of Defence to make metal parts to solve supply chain concerns. The labor market will benefit from worker requirements to design files, operate machinery and piece together parts. This project has been a long time coming. In 2017, additive manufacturing was used by the US Navy in order to create submarine parts. In 2021 Department of Defense published an extensive Additive Manufacturing strategy, outlining the integration and collaboration of 3D printing technology within the military forces. 

US navy fleet

The US Navy warships are regularly called into action at sea (Photo credit: US Navy)

Alongside the physical Center itself, the Navy and Office of the Secretary of Defense have also jointly opened a training program called ‘Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM), which aims to teach both traditional manufacturing (including welding and machining) and additive manufacturing in a fast-paced and intensive environment. They hope that this program will provide students with hands-on experience and specific skills required for industrial production, to the benefit of the US Navy. PEO SSBN’s Rear Adm. Scott Pappano also announced investment into a Regional Training Center which will supplement the Center of Excellence and train 1000 defense manufacturing workforce members each year. Clearly, officials are looking to expand the use of 3D printing and scale operations to maximum possible output; they are not simply testing out the idea, they are committing to it for the long term. For full details, you can read the press release HERE.



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