Royal Australian Navy is set to deploy locally developed 3D printing technology as part of a trial that is expected to bolster its maintenance efforts.
The Australian Department of Defence will fund the pilot effort with an A$1.5m ($1.01m) investment.
The project is anticipated to help the navy ‘streamline the maintenance of patrol vessels’ by improving the availability of spare parts.
Charles Darwin University’s Advanced Manufacturing Alliance developed the 3D printing capability.
Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said: “This high-tech machinery enables metal components to be produced quickly and efficiently, meaning our ships can get back on the water without delay.
“Benefiting both the navy and industry, the knowledge transfer gained using this capability also positions the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance to pursue further opportunities.
“This capability is a prime example of Australian innovation at its best and supports the government’s unprecedented shipbuilding and sustainment plans.”
The Advanced Manufacturing Alliance is a collaboration between Charles Darwin University and Australian firm SPEE3D.
The 3D printer, LightSPEE3D, is designed to produce parts at a rate up to 1,000 times faster than traditional metal 3D printing.
It is capable of producing high-density complex parts using cold spray metal manufacturing technology.
SPEE3D’s technology is expected to drive down manufacturing lead times and costs.
Earlier this year, the university announced that the LightSPEE3D printer gained entry into the Australian Military Sales Catalogue, which is part of the government’s efforts to boost defence exports.