The Military's First 3D-Printed Submersible Vessel
A team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has partnered with the U.S. Navy's Disruptive Technology Lab to create the military's first 3D-printed submersible hull. The 'Optionally Manned Technology Demonstrator' is a prototype vessel that could be used to deploy logistics capabilities and sensors. Created at ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, this proof-of-concept vehicle is the Navy's largest 3D-printed asset and is the first of several on-demand, disposable vehicles the Navy plans to print. The cost of a traditional hull ranges from $600,000 to $800,000 and typically takes 3-5 months to manufacture. The 3D-printed hull took only four weeks to complete; using ORNL's Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine also reduced hull production costs by 90%. The submersible hull is 30 feet long, 4.5 feet in diameter, and is made up of six carbon fiber composite sections. Fleet-capable prototypes could be introduced as early as 2019.