A metal 3D printer installed aboard the US Navy's amphibious ship Bataan is set to save the fleet substantial funds on repairs in the future. This was stated in an interview by Rear Admiral and Chief Engineer of the Navy, Jason Lloyd, as reported by Sarbaz.kz citing Breaking Defense.
Using the recent example of repairing an air compressor that regulates the ship's ballast, the Rear Admiral emphasized the effectiveness of 3D printers in naval service. Normally, replacing a faulty unit would take the service slightly over a year for manufacturing and installing a new compressor, while a ship crew equipped with a 3D printer would require up to five days. This also saved the fleet approximately $400,000.
The Rear Admiral underscores the potential of 3D printers in the navy and the importance of "additive manufacturing." He aims to have printers installed on all ships and repair yards.
Despite the fact that the 3D printer was installed on board the Bataan as early as November of last year, it was only recently that it was used for its intended purpose. This was due to a document from the Navy, signed in May. According to Lloyd, this document allowed the ship's crew to use 3D printing for producing parts of "low criticality," provided that the ship's commander grants permission. "Low criticality" refers to parts whose failure would not harm the crew.
However, the additive manufacturing of parts with higher criticality is likely, but it depends on circumstances, explained Lloyd. During peacetime, when waiting for repairs is nothing but an inconvenience, the ability to print small parts can significantly save the fleet's budget. As such, the document permits the printing of approximately 25% of onboard components.