Australia’s ASC is set to partner with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) to establish the use of additive manufacturing for Collins class submarines repair.

The team will also develop cold spray technology for repairing damaged metal surfaces.

This will enable the future repair of submarine components and allow Australian submarines to remain at sea for longer, reducing the need for repairs.

An additive manufacturing and repair method, cold spray uses a stream of supersonic gas to accelerate metal powder particles at the surface. This builds up a dense deposit.

The process occurs below the melting temperatures of the metals involved and prevents damage to the vessel.

ASC CEO Stuart Whiley said: “It’s vitally important for ASC to be on the cutting edge of submarine sustainment innovation, to continually improve Australia’s submarine availability to the Royal Australian Navy service.

“The use of additive manufacturing for the repair of critical submarine components, including the pressure hull, will mean faster, less disruptive repairs for our front-line Collins-class submarine fleet.”

The two-year project will deliver services, reducing the repair costs for the Royal Australian Navy.

Under the project, work will be carried out by ASC engineers with CSIRO’s Lab22 research facility in Melbourne.

The team aims to develop portable equipment for the in-situ repair of submarines.

Once successfully developed, proven and certified, ASC will receive a license to use cold spray to support Australia’s submarine sustainment organisation. It will primarily support the Collins-class submarine fleet.

CSIRO Research Team leader Dr Peter King said: “CSIRO and ASC have been working together for a number of years, exploring ways to use cold spray of nickel to repair corrosion.

“CSIRO has spearheaded the adoption of cold spray by Australian industry since first introducing the technology 18 years ago.”