WEST BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Self-sustaining ships, bio-printing and even energetics such as munitions topped the list of what Navy leaders envision their additive manufacturing future may look like during a meeting here this week that explored the implementation of 3D printing to the fleet.
Nearly 200 participants representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders from engineers and scientists to acquisition professionals and 3D-printing practitioners discussed Navy applications of additive manufacturing (AM), often referred to as 3D printing, at the 2015 Naval Additive Manufacturing Technical Interchange (NAMTI) meeting at Naval Surface Warfare Center - Carderock, April 28-30.
"This is not as far off as you think," said Vice Adm. Phillip Cullom, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, in his keynote address. "Soon there will be no physical tether to the supply chain. People thought the same about the early days of nuclear power."
Cullom ended his address by having the entire audience stand so he could designate them as Navy AM Plank Owners. "The future of the naval force is in your hands," he said.
The group also heard from other senior leaders on their vision and implementation plans for AM.
"We need to focus on identifying promising applications and making progress on how we incorporate AM into our production and sustainment processes," Dr. Thomas Killion, acting director of technology, Office of Naval Research, who participated in the AM Executive panel together with Vice Adm. David Dunaway, commander, Naval Air Systems Command, and Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, deputy commander, Ship Design, Integration and Naval Engineering, Naval Sea Systems Command.
Dunaway asked the group to "dump their small rice bowls into one big one," and called on the group to form "a government consortium to get our heads around requirements."
Fuller asked the group to explore the "judiciousness management of risk" taking aspects of both physical and digital risks into consideration while maintaining engineering expertise and technical excellence.
The panel agreed a Navy AM way ahead, which is one of the ongoing efforts of NAMTI, needs to be developed. Killion called a plan the key to future success. The panelists encouraged the group to continue their collaboration leveraging other services, industry and academia as they move forward.
In addition to the leadership panels, the 2015 NAMTI meeting held several focused breakout sessions to tackle specific issues including lifecycle management, advanced technologies, digital thread, qualification and certification, and workforce development. The group also advanced several science and technology efforts which began during the first meeting in 2014. The participants will continue to work on ideas developed during the meeting in smaller, focused forums.