3D printing is the latest innovation in tooling, leading to the creation of 3D printed pressbrake and other tools, as well as a new 3D tie bolt anti-rotation tool for an airplane.
The latter is the latest endeavour made by the United States Naval Sea Systems Command, at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) in Portsmouth, Virginia, which it then used in practical application, followed by an additional 100 orders for distribution throughout the NNSY’s Inside Machine Shop on land, as well as the force’s seafaring vessels.
The NNSY is the field operations of NAVSEA, which is specialized in repairing, overhauling, as well as modernizing the United States’ ships and submarines. It’s the largest, as well as the oldest facility operated by the US Navy, and has been noted for causing and creating many of the Navy’s latest innovations, like the construction of the USS Texas, the country’s first commissioned naval battleship.
The 3D printed bolt tool that they produced was made thanks to a collaboration between the NNSY’s Inside Machine Shop (Shop 72), and the Rapid Prototype Lab.
According to NNSY Lifting and Handling Specialist Jonathan Woodruff, the tool is an update on the yard’s current technology. He says that the department usually used a single tool for tie bolts, which he describes as akin to pliers with metal on the stop to stop the rotation of the bolts.
He says that the tool, while reliable, was tedious to use and was the only tool that the entire shop could use, which is why they decided it was time for a change.
The new tool was initially designed in 2D, before being 3D modelled in CAD, then 3D printed. The tool was tested for use during the design process, modified in order to meet specifications. The final prototype was then 3D printed in impact-resistant polycarbonate plastic, the material used for bullet proof glass and CDs.
Following the creation of the prototype, it was then present to the NNSY Rapid Prototype Lab, where it was tested, where it passed and was approved for use.
The overall cost for 3D printing up to eight tools in a single build ranges at a mere $30, which is why the NNSY is considering rolling out the 3D printed tool out across the entire NNSY workforce, following the innovations in 3D printed tools and parts, like pressbrake and aircraft components.