3D Systems Plans to Develop Corrosion-Resistant Alloys for Shipbuilding and Maritime Applications

Published on March 20, 2021 by Madeleine P.
3D Sytems Alloys

3D Systems, in collaboration with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division, announced plans to develop Copper-Nickel (CuNi) and Nickel-Copper (NiCu) alloys for use in powder bed fusion additive manufacturing. Both CuNi and NiCu are corrosion-resistant, making them ideal for marine applications. The new materials are expected to enable Newport News Shipbuilding to use AM for parts, allowing them to reduce lead times by up to 75% to improve supply chain efficiency. These materials could greatly expand AM applications in the maritime sector.

Increasingly, AM is being used instead of traditional casting methods in a variety of fields as the parts developed are both cost effective and improve lead times. However, a major obstacle in many applications is the limited materials that are available. This collaboration would be a large step forward in the production of parts for maritime use. CuNi and NiCu are known to have high strength and toughness over a variety of temperatures, making them useful for many sectors. However, when used to create parts using traditional casting methods, there are very long lead times, sometimes even in excess of 12 months. For this reason, 3D Systems and Newport News Shipbuilding are working together to develop the alloys for use with metal 3D printing technologies, which in turn would allow for significantly reduced lead times. Eventually, Newport News Shipbuilding would expect to use the materials to produce replacement parts for castings as well as valves, housings, and brackets. 

Copper-Nickel and Nickel-Copper alloys are widely used for maritime applications (photo credits: Copper Development Association Inc.)

3D systems will work with Newport News Shipbuilding to select the alloy composition, design the process parameter experiments, and qualify parts including tensile and other material testing. Commenting on the partnership, Dave Bolcar, vice president of engineering and design for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division on Huntington Ingalls Industries, stated: “Over the past few years, our companies have collaborated to support the qualification of metal additive manufacturing technologies in order to build parts for naval warships and conducted research and development of a corrosion performance design guide for direct metal printing of a nickel-based alloy. We’re looking forward to expanding on these efforts by development parameters that will allow us to further expand the use of additive manufacturing into our platforms, in order to provide both product quality, schedule, and performance for the fleet.”

This is not the first time that 3D Systems has worked on AM for maritime applications. They worked with the U.S. Navy for decades, with additive manufacturing solutions being used for a range of applications including aircraft parts and submersible components. 3D Systems and Newport News Shipbuilding also entered a joint development agreement in 2018 to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships, using 3D Systems’ ProX DMP 320, the predecessor to the DMP Flex 350. Furthermore, The Navy has long been interested in using AM for part replacement, as AM could offer a cost-effective and faster way to replace broken parts especially when their ships are far from land. Recently, that was shown in the collaboration between Xerox and the Naval Postgraduate School to use Xerox’s new metal 3D printer for research. The possible development of these new materials would have far-reaching applications for AM in the maritime sector, allowing AM to spread more widely in the field. You can find more information about this collaboration in the press release HERE.

What do you think of the 3D Systems’ planned development of these new alloys for AM? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages! Sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox!

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Updated
Every wednesday, receive a recap of the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox.