Jan.30, 2013

(Image credit: navy.mil)

U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division completed a fabricated model of the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) on Jan. 10, 2013. This is the first ship model to be created using a new 3D printer.

As a hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) provides emergency, on-site medical and surgical services for U.S. combatant forces deployed in war or for use in disaster. Comfort is more advanced than traditional hospital on land.

The state-of-the-art 3D printer used by Carderock is one of four in the United States. It provides Carderock with the capability to deliver large, complex ship models. The 3D printed ship models require less assembly time and can be fabricated unattended, 24 hours a day.

(3D printed model USNS Comfort | Image credit: NSWC)

"3D printing technology is currently being used in industry to produce parts, structures and models for various applications," said NSWC Carderock engineer Francisco "Paco" Rodriguez. "For more than a century, Carderock engineers have been at the forefront of technology in delivering ship models in order to build the Navy's future fleet. This next generation technology provides Carderock unprecedented capability to deliver fabricated ship models faster and at a more affordable cost for the Navy."

NSWC Carderock engineers and technicians upload computer-aided design (CAD) drawings of a ship model into the 3D printer. As the printing process begins an epoxy resin is exposed to ultraviolet light, changing its state to a solid. A wiper applies a coat of the liquid to a flat surface on the machine and the ultraviolet laser then traces the shape of the part to be constructed. Once solidified, the wiper continuously applies additional coats of epoxy until the ship model is completed.

"The model of the T-AH 20 was created within 25 days," said Rodriguez. "Prior to the installation of this 3D printer, we would have conducted four different builds in the previous machine followed by attaching all of the components together, resulting in more than double the time to reach completion. Not only was less time spent building, but now the model will have fewer seams than before."

Partnering with Naval Air Systems Command and Military Sealift Command, the model testing of USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) will be conducted in the NSWC Carderock Anechoic Flow Facility, a closed-loop wind tunnel which quantifies aerodynamic and acoustic properties of scaled ship or aircraft models and sub-system components. The testing will focus on measuring the airflow of anemometers, wind measurement sensors that are installed on the superstructure of Navy ships.

"The results will determine a usable range of wind directions for the anemometers to help ensure safety while launching and recovering aircraft," said Naval Air Systems Command engineer Joshua Butler. "The wind indications within the established usable range are used to provide wind speed and direction measurements to aircraft."

In addition to delivering ship models, the 3-D printer will also provide NSWC Carderock the capability to produce large parts of any shape that can be downloaded as a CAD file.

NSWC Carderock Division leads the Navy in hull, mechanical and electrical engineering expertise and delivers technical solutions in order to build and sustain a dominant, ready and affordable fleet. Headquartered in West Bethesda, Md., approximately 3,600 scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel are located across the United States.







Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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