Snowbird to participate in TRIDENT WARRIOR/RIMPAC metal Additive Manufacturing assessment event

May 8, 2024

The SAMM Tech AM machine is built into the structure of a 6.7 m MILVAN container (Courtesy Snowbird Technologies)
The SAMM Tech AM machine is built into the structure of a 6.7 m MILVAN container (Courtesy Snowbird Technologies)

Snowbird Technologies, Jacksonville, Florida, USA, has announced that it has been selected by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education (CAMRE) – the lead for Additive Manufacturing education and research at NPS – to participate in the 2024 Naval Experimentation exercises TRIDENT WARRIOR and RIMPAC to employ advanced manufacturing capability to afloat readiness challenges at the point of need.

The Metal Wire Directed Energy Deposition for Naval Operations Assessment Event is being facilitated by FLEETWERX, the NPS innovation hub, which drives collaboration among warrior-scholars, industry, academia, and government entities to rapidly develop and deploy innovative solutions for national security challenges. CAMRE is dedicated to the advancement of Additive Manufacturing research and education for the US Navy, US Marine Corps, and Department of Defense, especially for applications in operational environments. As an example, CAMRE recently opened the NPS Advanced Manufacturing Center, a laboratory that will aid in the pursuit of breakthroughs in Additive Manufacturing and related technologies for defence applications.

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The Metal Wire Directed Energy Deposition for Naval Operations Assessment Event is designed to identify the capabilities and expertise that will provide a competitive advantage to enhance naval readiness via advanced manufacturing technology. Snowbird Technologies was selected because of the Snowbird Additive Mobile Manufacturing Technology platform – SAMM Tech – a 6.7 m, containerised and deployable metal Additive Manufacturing machine powered by a Meltio Additive Manufacturing machine, FANUC controls, and Creaform 3D scanning capabilities.

One of the value propositions that contributed to SAMM Tech being selected for this exercise was its reliance on metal wire Directed Energy Deposition (DED) using the Meltio machine. The use of weld wire versus powder reportedly addresses Naval Engineering concerns around hazardous material inputs and outputs.

SAMM Tech will be transported to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii for installation on a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, where it will participate in activities to support parts production for the ship while afloat and for adjacent afloat ships. Per the programme requirements, SAMM Tech can perform metal wire DED Additive Manufacturing and finish the parts with CNC subtractive manufacturing capabilities in the same machine.

“The TRIDENT WARRIOR and RIMPAC experimentation exercises will accelerate the development of SAMM Tech to be a tool in the Naval Readiness toolkit while afloat,” said Jeremy Heerdink, Vice President. “The unit has performed well on land, but this will be its first experience afloat in a fully immersive defence setting. We have high expectations for the capabilities of SAMM Tech and how it can support warfighters at sea.”

SAMM Tech is built into the structure of a 6.7 m MILVAN container, maximising build area, and creating a robust and tactical shelter for the build and CNC systems and an integrated operator compartment. With the Meltio build head and engine – a strategic technology partner awarded by the Department of Defense – SAMM Tech can additively manufacture in various metal materials, including stainless steel, mild steel, tool steel, titanium, and Inconel. For the TRIDENT WARRIOR exercise, stainless steel is the material of choice. Raw materials will be provided in standard weld wire and compressed inert gas to operate the Additive Manufacturing machine at sea.

The assessment event will conclude in late summer, at which time a full analysis and case study report will be generated with Snowbird Technologies, outlining any constraints or needed improvements to ensure the machines are ready for full operation on the land, in the air, and at sea.

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