Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries plans to install the first certified 3D-printed metal part on an aircraft carrier -- a prototype piping assembly -- on the USS Harry S. Truman next year.
The company announced Thursday that it has worked with the U.S. Navy to develop methods of additive manufacturing of metal parts for its nuclear-powered warships.
HII earlier this year installed a ProX DMP 320 high-performance metal additive manufacturing system at its Newport News facility after approval of the additive manufacturing process by Naval Sea Systems Command.
"We have delved into uncharted territory to create a positive disruption in our industry in much the same way the modern welding processes supplanted rivets, revolutionizing the way ships are built," Charles Southall, vice president of engineering and design of HII's Newport News Shipbuilding Division, said in a press release.
Additive manufacturing is a digitized process that layers metal powder to create three-dimensional parts. HII said it plans to use the process to potentially replace castings and fabricated parts such as valves, housings and brackets.
The prototype piping assembly is expected to be installed on the USS Harry S. Truman in 2019. The assembly will then be tested onboard the ship for a year.
The Truman set sail with the rest of its Carrier Strike Group from Naval Station Norfolk in August following a refit and rest visit for maintenance, training and certification upkeep.
The Truman Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to support NATO allies and European and African partner nations, as well as maintain U.S. national security interests in the area, and will participate in the upcoming NATO exercise Trident Juncture.