The US Navy is a big proponent of additive manufacturing technology, and its use of 3D printers on ships offers self-sustainability in remote areas, allowing sailors and officers to make and repair their own tools, parts, and components on board while out at sea, rather than having to go back in to port. It is disruptive and expensive, not to mention time-consuming, to bring a ship all the way ashore just to fix a small problem like a broken part, but a team of engineers from the University of Connecticut (UConn) has been hard at work developing a solution to this problem.
The UConn engineers have found a way for a Navy ship’s crew to determine the exact point of mechanical trouble on board the ship, which would negate them having to take the ship offline for maintenance. Instead, they could use 3D printing technology to fix, or replace, the bad part while out at sea, saving on both time and money.
Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Rainer Hebert, who is also the Director of the Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at UConn, is leading the research team. The engineers created a device which uses ceramics, on 3D printed metals, to find signals about potential problems and degradation on board, like overheating. Read the full 3D Print story.