SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) held a training course the week of April 8 for Sailors who will use 3D printers.
The printers will be installed onboard USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS John P Murtha (LPD 26), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Makin Island (LHD 8) to fabricate parts and custom tools to reduce long lead time supply ordering and solve challenges with replacing obsolete parts.
Led by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Afloat Additive Manufacturing (AM) Team, with assistance from Cesar Molina, SWRMC’s AM SME, and his team, Sailors spent two days focusing on Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software training, followed by two days of equipment training for each type of printer (Lulzbot TAZ and UPrint SE). The final day was devoted to meeting a design challenge to apply the skills learned over the previous lessons.
“We are establishing a connection between these ships, NAVSEA and SWRMC’s AM Lab to build an inventory of approved parts that can be 3D printed for shipboard use,” Molina said. “Currently, SWRMC has nearly 10 approved parts for shipboard use on our LCS, LHD, CG and DDG ships, which contributes directly to SWRMC’s vision to deliver 100% on time, cost effective and innovative solutions.”
According to Molina, the training is specifically tailored to provide Sailors onboard the four ships with the tools to become technical experts in the design and production of AM parts. It is the next step towards installing 3D printers across the fleet to increase mission success.
“I really enjoyed this training,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Trout, a Solder Technician onboard Makin Island who, with the new AM printers being installed on his ship, will be taking over the operations role with the 3D equipment.
“My plan is to start an innovation team within the ship and get ideas from everyone onboard,” Trout said. “I want to be the conduit who leads the design and printing of tools, parts and other items by the guys turning the wrenches, or the Culinary Specialists, or Sailors from any department onboard who know what they need to be more efficient.”
During the week-long class, Trout not only learned how to use the 3D printers, he was also able to design and fit-test a final iteration of a pounds per square inch gauge cap, a much-needed part for aviation fuel systems.
“The gauge cap is something simple and really easy to produce with the AM process, which is the perfect solution to produce the smallest things that make everyone’s life easier, while saving the Navy time and money,” said Trout. “Now, when a part breaks down, we won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on new equipment to fix the problem. For about five dollars, we can just print the one small part that needs to be replaced.”
According to Molina, this is just the tip of the iceberg for what this will mean to SWRMC’s capabilities.
“We are adding to our list of approved parts every day,” Molina said. “Per the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Navy’s goal is to have an inventory of at least 100 approved parts for shipboard use before the end of this fiscal year. We say, challenge accepted, because the Navy depends on us.”
SWRMC’s mission is to provide superior ship maintenance, modernization, technical support, and training for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
For more information on SWRMC please visit https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/RMC/SWRMC.
For more news from Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/swrmc/.