This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is becoming more and more prevalent in the military maintenance and logistics fields. The technology will soon be used for the repair of submarines.

Australia’s dedicated submarine sustainment organization, ASC, is collaborating with the country’s national science agency, CSIRO, and DMTC research foundation in the 3D printing repair of Collins Class submarines. The partners have joined forces to further develop ‘cold spray’ technology for repairing damaged metal surfaces, to enable the future in situ repair of submarine components.

Successful development of the cold spray technique for this specific maritime application will allow Australian submarines to remain at sea for longer, without the need to dock for lengthy repairs. 

Cold spray is an additive manufacturing and repair method that uses a stream of supersonic gas to accelerate metal powder particles at a surface, building up a dense deposit.

The innovative process occurs below the melting temperatures of the metals involved, which avoids damaging the structural integrity of the components and surrounding area.

The two-year project seeks to deliver breakthroughs in submarine repair and cost-of-ownership reductions for the Royal Australian Navy, through expert contributions from industrial and research partners.

“CSIRO has spearheaded the adoption of cold spray by Australian industry since first introducing the technology 18 years ago. We have developed unique cold spray-based solutions for the printing industry, aerospace, rail and for combating marine biofouling. The team is focussed on working closely with local companies to develop new intellectual property for Australia and to deliver on national missions such as building sovereign capability,” said Research Team Leader at CSIRO, Dr Peter King.

Once successfully proven and certified, ASC will be licensed to use cold spray to support its work as Australia’s submarine sustainment organisation, primarily in supporting the Collins Class submarine fleet, according to asc.com.au.