SPEE3D’s Cutting-Edge Manufacturing Tech Fuels US Navy’s Inaugural SALVEX Exercise

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SPEE3D, a metal additive manufacturing OEM, has participated in the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) inaugural SALVEX exercise at Pearl Harbor. The operation ran in May 2024 and sought to demonstrate metal 3D printing capability to repair damage and sustain military operations. 

Based in Australia, SPEE3D’s XSPEE3D and SPEE3Dcell Cold Spray Additive Manufacturing (CSAM) were used to 3D print critical metal parts. Navy reservists and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) were tasked with using on-demand metal printing in a situation simulating a specific naval scenario.

“SPEE3D is honored to be selected by the US Navy once again to demonstrate our proprietary cold-spray metal additive manufacturing technology,” said Byron Kennedy, CEO of SPEE3D. “Participating in an exercise where a ship will be purposefully damaged as part of a naval exercise is novel, and we are optimistic that XSPEE3D will be able to print crucial metal parts to help repair the vessel quickly.

Enhancing Naval Capabilities Through Additive Manufacturing

XSPEE3D is an Expeditionary Manufacturing Unit (EMU), or, in more straightforward terms – a shipping container with the equipment necessary to run the metal 3D printer.

This mobile additive manufacturing system is optimized for defense applications and capable of printing metal parts up to 1m x 0.7m (40″ x 30″) within hours. Material options include aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. The SPEE3Dcell unit, which pairs with the XSPEE3D, includes a heat treatment furnace, CNC mill, and essential tooling. CSAM, unlike metal additive processes like Laser Power Bed Fusion or Electron Beam Melting, does not require lasers or inert gases.

“Ensuring the security of our nation requires technology that can successfully work in all environments – including at sea,” said a Navy spokesperson. “Supply chain issues are prevalent, so being able to manufacture metal parts quickly and from anywhere is a huge issue that we’re excited to test and hopefully resolve.”

“The ability to quickly produce and deploy essential components is critical for maintaining our naval forces’ operational readiness and effectiveness.” SPEED3D’s CEO noted, “Our participation in the SALVEX exercise demonstrates the robustness and adaptability of our additive manufacturing solutions, tailored to meet the rigorous demands of naval applications.”

Additive Manufacturing for the Navy

Increasingly, metal additive manufacturing is finding maritime applications for the U.S. Navy.

For example, Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. (BPMI) has chosen Velo3D’s advanced metal additive manufacturing (AM) system to enhance the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. The system, featuring the Sapphire XC large format printer, is optimized for stainless steel 415 and will be operated by ATI at their new facility near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This integration aims to streamline the production of complex parts, previously made through casting, thus reducing lead times and optimizing the supply chain for critical components.

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