Submarine manufacturer turns to Additive Manufacturing for titanium ballast tank

February 9, 2017

Submarine manufacturer turns to Additive Manufacturing for titanium ballast tank

Sciaky, Inc., Chicago, USA, has used its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) technology to build a titanium variable ballast tank for International Submarine Engineering (ISE), Ltd., saving a significant amount of time and cost when compared with traditional manufacturing processes.

ISE is said to have approached Sciaky after the closure of its former supplier, an overseas titanium forging facility that produced propellant tanks for the Russian space program. A new titanium variable ballast tank was manufactured for ISE using Sciaky’s EBAM process, reducing production time from 16 weeks to 8 weeks, as well as reducing overall costs as compared to retooling with a new forging supplier.

“Sciaky is proud to help ISE cut production time by 50% and reduce costs by 3D printing their titanium variable ballast tanks with our one-of-a-kind EBAM process,” stated Bob Phillips, Vice President of Marketing for Sciaky, Inc. “Our industry-leading EBAM technology is the world’s only industrial-scale metal 3D printing solution with approved parts for land, sea, air and space applications.”

The titanium variable ballast tank is a sub-system of ISE’s Arctic Explorer Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) class of vehicles. ISE previously built two Arctic Explorers for Natural Resources Canada/Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to map the sea floor underneath the Arctic ice shelf. The Arctic Explorer is the largest of the Explorer AUV class, measuring over seven meters long and weighing over 2000 kilograms.

Submarine manufacturer turns to Additive Manufacturing for titanium ballast tank

The unique ballast system enables the AUV park on the sea floor or hold itself on the underside of the ice during missions. Rated to 5,000 meters depth, the Arctic Explorer is designed to remain underwater between missions for extended periods of time. A small remotely operated vehicle conducts all servicing and charging after the AUV is attached to a docking head.

The EBAM titanium variable ballast tank has reportedly passed the same vigorous qualification testing as the original forged tank and ISE is said to have plans to manufacture other critical titanium parts using Sciaky’s EBAM process.

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