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Spotlights on Innovation

March 2017


Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren has developed an additively manufactured air amplifier which reduces the amount of compressed air needed to fill Zodiacs and other inflatable boats by 66%. Among the air amplifier's benefits: less compressed air needed to inflate boats results in weight reduction and/or increased lifespan of stored compressed air.


SPAWAR SSC Pacific has 3D printed and plated a proven antenna design (High Gain IO Tapered Slot Feed) that matches traditional antenna radiation performance. Additive manufacturing techniques have greatly accelerated speed to capability of these systems and supported the development of cutting-edge antennas. Currently fielded tapered slot antennas cost approximately $3,500 and take 6 weeks to produce. By contrast, using additive manufacturing the same antenna printed and plated costs approximately $350 and takes 2 weeks each to produce.


BOSTON (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Phil Cullom, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics (N4) and Vice Adm. Tom Moore, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), partnered to host a High Velocity Learning Competition at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston, March 22-24.

Ultra-wideband (UWB) phased arrays offer a solution to rising shipbuilding costs due to the proliferation of shipboard combat and weapons systems. UWB phased array antennas offer multi-mission functionality, a reduced number of electronically-controlled beams, and other features. And now, after nearly a decade of research and development, practical designs are becoming a reality. Recent U.S. Naval Research Laboratory additive manufacturing initiatives are underway to combine performance improvements to-date with the benefits of rapid internal prototyping for an even lighter-weight, lower-cost UWB phased array antenna design.


Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) aims to accelerate development of Solid Fuel Ramjet (SFRJ) technology, which enables a three-fold increase in delivered range compared to a similarly-sized solid rocket motor. The SFRJ air inlet design is critical to system performance, and conventional manufacturing methods limit the part geometry that can be affordably achieved to less than optimum designs. Utilizing metal additive manufacturing, NAWCWD explores the feasibility and performance impact of a DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) steel printed air inlet for a SFRJ test vehicle.


NSWCPD and its collaborators (NUWC NPT and NSWCCD) are pursuing various projects with biological inspiration to improve performance. Nature has proven to provide unique solutions for various Navy problems. For example, the sensory characteristics of seal whiskers are very unique and could potentially be used by the Navy to detect disturbances in the water. On the contrary, the hindrances nature can cause are unique problems the Navy must overcome. Biofouling on ship hulls, a gradual accumulation of organisms such as barnacles and algae, results in a penalty to performance. 3D printed panels with biofouling geometries can be tested for hydrodynamic penalties, such as increased drag and reduced fuel efficiency, to better understand these effects.


Dr. Ben Gould and Senior Chief Machinery Repairman (SW/AW) Sean Boykin are revolutionizing the fleet, naval research labs, and shipyards -- with a little help from their friends and 3D Printing. They collaborated with additive manufacturing experts to improve warfighting capabilities and readiness throughout the 2017 Department of the Navy (DON) 3D Print-a-Thon held at the Pentagon, March 15.

From 17-21 October 2016, Marines from 2d Maintenance Battalion teamed up with soft-ware designers to identify requirements and develop a digital collaboration site and repository. With the intent to increase additive manufacturing productivity and transmit the sharing of files electronically, the results of their efforts was the creation of a website and software app that can be used on any mobile device. This easily accessible platform will not only provide a source for Marines to obtain already approved files, but will facilitate design improvements and allow for greater communications across the Marine Corps Maker Movement.


In the third issue of the Department of the Navy (DON) Strategy and Innovation newsletter, we explore the exciting frontiers of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Sophisticated additive manufacturing tools and techniques have increasingly demonstrated great potential to revolutionize the DON's logistics, supply-chain, and acquisition systems. Better still, there is a growing effort within the enterprise to make this technology accessible to more Sailors, Marines, and DON Civilians -- motivating and empowering the innovators of the future.

On 3 April 2017, during Sea-Air-Space, ATHENA Project DC 2.0 will host a shark tank style pitch competition for innovators to share their ideas and network with others interested in innovation. Pitch entries are open to anyone -- service members (all branches, active or reserve), Department of Defense Civilians, retirees, and students alike. Audience is open to all supportive of innovation in the DoD.

Alternative ASW platforms including UAVs, USVs, and UUVs in development need deployable miniature sonobuoys that will meet platform size, weight, and power restrictions. Additive Manufacturing (AM) provides the ability to produce lightweight, expendable, modular components that can be produced and assembled on-demand from at-sea platforms. Functional AM container with integrated wiring, as-printed air chambers, and quick-assembly features allow for the small form-factor design. These AM designs will provide commonality among significant components required for several types of sonobuoys.


Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme Division has successfully demonstrated shipboard tactical application of additive manufacturing: a quadcopter assembled and flight tested in the hangar bay of the USS Essex in support of Vessel Boarding, Search and Seizure operations. Researchers worked with the Fleet and shore-based engineering centers to define the requirements of the operation, email applicable system files to the ship, and assist in the tactical unmanned aircraft's assembly and flight demonstration.


A towable buoy will be manufactured using both direct AM methods and indirect AM processes. NSWC Crane will utilize in-house AM equipment for this effort. Indirect AM processes will be employed where molds, fixtures, and/or tools are additively manufactured and used to fabricate the end-component faster, cheaper, or in a more novel way than the traditional alternatives. Proving this concept will increase visibility within the Navy on the potential common and novel uses of AM for future warfighter support applications.


This effort investigates quadruped locomotion on the 5-10 kg scale. Quadrupeds are capable of navigating terrain too challenging for wheeled or tracked platforms, and can perform future dynamic running, jumping, and climbing operations. U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) envisions quadruped robots that can be easily carried and deployed from a backpack. To meet this form factor and power density, NRL uses advanced technologies including additive manufacturing to construct custom high-pressure hydraulic manifold that also serves as the robot's structure.


In Admiral Hopper's opinion, the greatest obstacle to innovation is taking the stance, "We've always done it this way" - and heaven help anyone who uttered that thought in her presence. Rear Adm. Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the field of computer science and for more than four decades was at the forefront of computing development - in the U.S. Navy, academia and in industry.


The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) has experienced an unprecedented level of demand for its products and services in recent years. To meet that need, the Center's ranks grew to 4,800 in fiscal year 2016, and several new office spaces and buildings were rolled out to accommodate this new talent and new workload.


The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) [ASN(RD&A)] invites you to attend the FY17 Department of the Navy (DON) Pentagon 3D Print-a-Thon on Tuesday, 14 March. Twenty naval organizations - including scientists and engineers from across the Naval Research and Development Establishment (NR&DE), maintenance operations, and Marines and Sailors from multiple commands - are presenting items that have been produced through the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology. Participating organizations have designed and additively manufactured items that demonstrate one or both of the following concepts:
  • Enhanced Warfighting Capability: Demonstrates an innovative use of AM technology to provide enhanced warfighting capabilities (i.e. increased lethality, light-weight components, items customized to mission or warfighter).
  • Readiness/Sustainment: Demonstrates AM to support or resolve an existing readiness, sustainment, logistical, or supply problem.

The latest CMC Challenge is underway! This second iteration focuses on "How can the Marine Corps enhance training and education to improve the decision-making ability of small unit leaders?” and will be open through 31 March 2017.


How do you spark change from the ground up? By turning the status quo on its head. Capt Ben Gallo, a FY17 SECNAV Innovation Advisor, shares his recent experience facilitating an "illuminate Thinkshop" in Japan. The course advocates a unique approach to helping leaders and teams learn and adapt to pursue maximum possible performance, and has already begun making a difference across the Department of the Navy.


Last November, aviators from across the Navy and Marine Corps met at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in Silicon Valley, California, for the first-ever Aviation Community-focused TANG. TANG, or Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation, has since 2011 been igniting creativity to deliver solutions for some of the Navy's toughest challenges.

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