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Navy League 2023: Additive manufacturing supports aircraft carrier programme at Newport News Shipbuilding

Newport News Shipbuilding 3D printed critical parts for aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford . (Janes/Michael Fabey)

HII's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division has started to use additive manufacturing and 3D-printed parts to support its aircraft carrier programmes and sees the potential for such work aboard operational carriers, according to Brian Fields, vice-president of Enterprise (CVN 80) and Doris Miller (CVN 81) programmes.

NNS has already used 3D-printed parts on carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) and Enterprise , and the shipyard is working with the US Navy (USN) on the possibility of putting 3D-printing capability aboard operational carriers, Fields told reporters on 4 April during a briefing at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space 2023 Global Maritime Exposition held in National Harbor, Maryland, which started on 3 April.

“There were some critical parts necessary for 78's deployment at the beginning of this year,” Fields said.

He also said the shipyard 3D printed another set of important parts needed for CVN 80 with the help of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

Now the shipyard is in “aggressive conversations” to put a containerised 3D-printing capability on aircraft carriers to enable the ships to do their additive manufacturing, he added.

Other USN ships have some additive manufacturing capability, he said. “But a carrier has a machine shop and it can support other ships in [a] strike group.”

“We still have some qualifications and hoops to jump through,” he said, adding, “The navy is very excited about that. It's the future. It's coming.”

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