The Navy has come one step closer to the vision of being able to manufacture parts on demand. Xerox and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) announced a strategic research collaboration to advance 3D printing and additive manufacturing.
As part of a CRADA (Collaborative Research and Development Agreement) between NPS and Xerox, a Xerox ElemX Liquid Metal Printer was installed in the School’s Large Experiment Annex on campus. NPS will be the first in the world to have this new technology installed.
“From the Age of Sails to the Atomic Age, seafarers fixed things at sea so they could accomplish the mission,” said the retired Vice-Adm. Ann Rondeau, NPS president. “This partnership is about the Navy’s strategic ability to have seafarers on ships who, through creativity and technology, are able to advance their operations at sea. By working together, NPS and Xerox, with support from the NPS Alumni Association and Foundation (NPSAAF), are helping build a marine for the 21st century. “
With access to the ElemX liquid metal printer and other state-of-the-art additive manufacturing equipment, NPS faculty and students can design and create on-demand articles as part of their thesis.
Creating parts on demand not only adds to readiness, but also reduces reliance on long, complex logistic chains.
“Global supply chains make industries such as aerospace, automotive, heavy machinery, and oil and gas vulnerable to external risks,” said Tali Rosman, Xerox vice president and general manager, 3D printing. “Our goal is to integrate localized 3D printing into your processes. NPS’s real-time feedback provides us with actionable data to continuously improve ElemX.”
The CRADA Agreement benefits both Maritime Service and Xerox.
“The military supply chain is one of the most complex in the world and NPS has a firsthand understanding of the challenges manufacturers are facing,” said Naresh Shanker, Xerox chief technology officer. “This collaboration will help NPS drive the adoption of 3D printing across the US Navy and provide Xerox with valuable information to provide flexibility and resilience in the supply chain to future customers.”
“As the applied research division of the Department of the Navy, NPS combines student operating experience with education and research to provide innovative skills and develop innovative leaders with the expertise to leverage them,” said Rondeau. “This collaborative research with Xerox and the use of their 3D printing innovations is a great example of how NPS uniquely prepares our military students to explore novel approaches to create, craft, prototype and manufacture capabilities anywhere.”
According to retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Todd Lyons, vice president of the NPSAAF, providing the right digital tools and the liquid metal printer has helped transform the supply chain and how the Department of Defense (DoD) thinks operationally about supplies of war.
“This is one way to bend the cost curve so the Department of Defense doesn’t spend a thousand dollars for every dollar a competitor spends,” Lyons said.