BY CHRISTOPHER M. WYATT, PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST MID-ATLANTIC REGIONAL MAINTENANCE CENTER
[caption id="attachment_3930" align="alignright" width="580"]
Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center Fab Lab Project Supervisor Lt. Todd Coursey explains to ship’s force how to set screw placement and how to secure the throat guard in the sink. – Photo by Meaghan Biery, support contractor, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center’s (MARMC) Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) is in the final stages of testing a new 3D printed throat guard for Navy garbage grinders. MARMC Fab Lab Project Officer Lt. Todd Coursey and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) 05D5 In-Service Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Design Integration Manager Cory Emmons have been working together to create and test the new and innovative throat guard aboard naval vessels.
There has been a long standing issue with garbage grinders aboard ships. Coursey and Emmons set out to create a throat guard that would help alleviate the issue.
“We developed a functional requirements list and specifications in order to meet the various sink sizes in the ships’ galleys,” said Emmons. “We had to ensure that this new throat guard would be able to withstand certain environmental tests like being immersed in sink water with various detergents and oils. The next step was to find a place to fabricate this part and that’s where Coursey came in.”
Coursey was provided with the specifications and guidelines from NAVSEA 05D5. He had his group work with additive-manufacturing (AM) experts to fabricate the new throat guard.
“We chose to make the throat guard from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic because of its quality and suitability for plumbing systems,” said Coursey.
Initial testing was done at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock where the throat guard tested successfully and even surpassed its’ commercial variants. The next step was to place the throat guard aboard a ship and test it during sea trials for three months.
“This way we could see how the throat guard handles the daily rigors. The plan is to get feedback from ship’s force, make any changes necessary and then, make this available to the Fleet,” said Emmons.
The idea is that when these ships are in port at Fab Labs, like the one at MARMC, they will be able to potentially order a non-critical part and have it in a matter of hours and reduce stocked inventory.
“This throat guard could be the first step in a line of successful parts created by Fab Labs. It’s proof of technology and implementation. This is the Navy taking an idea, designing it, testing it and fielding it, which is a huge acquisition cycle condensed into one small component. Through the throat guard, we have created a process whereby it can happen,” said Emmons.
Currently, the throat guard is undergoing testing aboard USS Coronado (LCS 4).
“It was good to work with you and your team and gain exposure to the exciting potential 3D printing applications, particularly with regards to LCS class ships,” said USS Coronado Executive Officer Commander Scott Larson. “The capability to produce “near-real-time” critical parts on a platform with inherently thin margins pertaining to material redundancy is something absolutely worth pursuing.”
It is clear this is just the beginning of many of the possible applications where AM will shorten the supply chain and support our ships and warfighters across the globe.