ROCK HILL, South Carolina, March 18, 2021 – 3D Systems today announced it is collaborating with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division to develop Copper-Nickel (CuNi) and Nickel-Copper (NiCu) alloys for powder bed fusion additive manufacturing.
These new materials could allow Newport News Shipbuilding to additively manufacture parts that are traditionally cast – reducing lead times by up to 75 percent to improve supply chain efficiency.
CuNi and NiCu are alloys that are corrosion-resistant, which makes them ideal for marine applications. While parts produced with these metals possess high strength and toughness over a variety of temperatures, they must currently be produced using traditional casting methods. This requires very long lead times – sometimes in excess of 12 months – and multiple suppliers. If these alloys could be formulated for use with metal 3D printing technologies, lead times for some of these parts could be reduced to a fraction of the traditional procurement time.
“Customer-centric innovation has been a driving force for 3D Systems since its founding,” said Chuck Hull, co-founder, EVP, chief technology officer, 3D Systems.
“Through our on-going collaboration with Newport News Shipbuilding, we have yet another opportunity to bring to bear our deep materials science and application engineering expertise – allowing our customers to maximize the power of additive manufacturing within their organization. These new materials have the potential to redefine Newport News Shipbuilding’s innovation pipeline enabling them to more efficiently deliver high-quality parts.”
Through this materials development effort, 3D Systems is working with Newport News Shipbuilding to select the alloy composition, design the process parameter experiments, and qualify parts which include tensile and other material testing.
With these new materials, Newport News Shipbuilding will be able to use their metal AM solution to produce replacement parts for castings as well as valves, housings, and brackets. With the successful use of these materials demonstrated, 3D Systems anticipates they will be added to its materials portfolio to address a breadth of applications where corrosion is a major concern such as oil and gas production and refining, and utility energy production.
“We’re excited to continue our partnership with 3D Systems on these important shipbuilding alloys,” said Dave Bolcar, vice president of engineering and design for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
“Over the past few years, our companies have collaborated to support the qualification of metal additive manufacturing technologies in order to build parts for naval warships and conducted research and development of a corrosion performance design guide for direct metal printing of a nickel-based alloy. We’re looking forward to expanding on these efforts by developing parameters that will allow us to further expand the use of additive manufacturing into our platforms, in order to improve both product quality, schedule, and performance for the fleet.”
3D Systems has contributed additive manufacturing expertise to the U.S. Navy for decades with its additive manufacturing solutions being used for everything from aircraft parts to submersible components.
In 2018, 3D Systems and Newport News Shipbuilding entered a joint development agreement to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships. At the time, 3D Systems delivered and installed a ProX® DMP 320 – the predecessor to the company’s DMP Flex 350 - with the goal of moving portions of Newport News’ manufacturing process from traditional methods to additive, thus enhancing production rates of high accuracy parts with reduced waste, and reducing cost. Developing new marine alloys for Newport News’ unique application needs will allow them to continue expanding the role AM plays in their manufacturing workflow.