Jun 2, 2017 | By David

The day-to-day labor of one group of industrial shipyard workers has been made a little easier with the help of 3D printing technology. Personnel at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth (VA) 3D printed a Tie Bolt Anti Rotation tool for use on a variety of naval vessels, a project which was developed from an idea that the employees came up with themselves.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard is part of the Naval Sea Systems Command, and is the oldest and largest industrial facility that the U.S Navy owns. It specializes in the repair of ships and submarines, as well as overhauling and modernizing their construction. Naval Sea Systems Command has a strong commitment to innovation in its operations and high-velocity learning for its employees, making efforts to keep up to date with the latest technological advances. We’ve seen examples before of the U.S Navy making use of 3D printing in its manufacturing projects, and the technology is now being implemented for more everyday purposes.

The NNSY has its own Rapid Prototyping Lab, which encourages employees to come up with new ideas to improve the way they work by allowing them to be quickly developed into a tangible product, using 3D printing and other methods. It was with the help of this facility that the latest innovation, the Tie Bolt Anti Rotation Tool, was created.

A tie bolt is a long metal rod which has threading at each end. It is used to connect two or more parts of a structure, frame, or truss together, and to resist tension. Tie bolts are frequently used in ships and submarines to hold frames and components securely in place. 

The Lifting and Handling department at NNSY was, for many years, using a single tool for jobs involving tie bolts, but this was always an impractical solution. ''It's like a set of pliers with metal welded on to stop the tie bolts from rotating," said NNSY Lifting and Handling Specialist Jonathan Woodruff. "Though the tool did the job, it was a difficult process to use and resulted in some fumbling around with the vice grips. It was a tedious process and with only one tool at our entire shop's disposal, it was time for a change." 

That much-needed change involved—you guessed it—3D printing. After staff tested an early version of a new 3D printed tool at the Rapid Prototyping Lab, its digital 3D model was adjusted slightly here and there before being sent to the Inside Machine Shop to be 3D printed in a durable polycarbonate material.

The shipyard says that eight tools can be produced in each build, at around $30 apiece. The NNSY has ordered 100 new tools since the design was finalized, and its success is poised to spread to the whole Naval Sea Systems Command operations, with other shipyards hopefully making use of the tool in the near future.

Woodruff was optimistic about how 3D printing technology (and the spirit and commitment of his co-workers) can ensure a more efficient and safe working environment. "This was something new for our team so a lot of people were skeptical before we began testing,'' he said. ''But seeing it in action, it was highly effective and not only provided cost-savings but improved our quality of work life. Our team is fully onboard and it's only just the beginning."




Source: Navy.mil

Posted in 3D Printing Application



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ckw wrote at 6/5/2017 6:28:23 PM:

how about a picture of the device instead of old ship pictures??

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