The US Navy just cut the production time of a 30 foot submersible craft capable of delivering Navy Seals and equipment into enemy territory by 75% with 3d printing. And if that weren't enough, they cut the cost of the submersible craft by 90%.
"Additive manufacturing is a potential game-changing technology for naval warfare" said John Burrow, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, test and evaluation. "It accelerates capability development and will increase our readiness by reducing obsolescence or long lead time issues."
The 30 foot submersible is made out of a composite carbon fiber material which was used to 3d print 6 individual pieces which were then attached to each other. The process of printing the pieces took just two days according to the Department of Defense, while the planning and execution of the entire idea took just 1 month. It normally takes 3 to 5 months to create a similar submersible.
The work was done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and now that a proof of concept has been established, a team from the Navy will manufacture a second version of the submersible with 3d printing for testing in the water.
"The ultimate vision for this system is to create a disposable or limited use vehicle that can be reconfigured very quickly and has modular energy and data systems," said Kevin Lin, who is with the Navy's Carderock Division of Naval Surface Warfare.