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    Revolutionising Naval Maintenance with 3D Printers

    Military Voice
    Posted by Military Voice on May 13, 2024 2:54:03 PM

    Innovative collaboration between a 3D printer and a skilled technician has proven invaluable for HMAS Warramunga, seamlessly resolving issues and even introducing upgrades. 

    Since its acquisition in early 2023, this cutting-edge addition has become a focal point in the Anzac-class frigate's workshop, swiftly addressing the need for replacement parts as they arise. 

    From essential components like push-to-talk buttons and microphone holders to seemingly mundane items like washing machine handles and coffee machine door chocks, the printer has significantly enhanced various areas throughout Warramunga. 

    Leading Seaman Nicholas Parks emphasised the transformative potential of the 3D printer, providing sailors and engineers with a powerful tool to troubleshoot and innovate onboard. 

    “I think it encourages them to think outside the box and to find innovative and creative solutions to often challenging puzzles,” he said. 

    Operating the machine involves uploading a 3D model of the desired item into its software. The model is then converted into a layer-by-layer file format that the printer can interpret. Subsequently, the printer heats plastic material and deposits it layer by layer onto the printing bed until the item is fully formed. 

    Despite being crafted from plastic, the printed parts exhibit commendable durability. The strength and dependability of the products vary based on the specific printing parameters utilised for each project. 

    Although 3D printers have only recently been integrated into the fleet, forward-thinking technicians like Leading Seaman Parks are enthusiastically embracing their potential. A significant advantage for the ship's crew is the printer's ability to rapidly produce small-scale components—such as buttons and switches—faster than they can be procured from stores. 

    HMAS WarramungaWarramunga is derived from the Warramunga (also spelt Warumungu) Aboriginal people from the Tennant Creek area and the ship's badge depicts a fearsome Warumungu tribesman about to throw a boomerang. The blue represents the sky and yellow background represents a desert hillside. HMAS Warramunga's motto "Courage in Difficulties" honours the Warumungu tibe's life of courage in their harsh environment


    While acknowledging his ongoing learning curve in maximising the new capability, Leading Seaman Parks expressed a sense of excitement at being part of a Navy that continually embraces innovation. 

    “It most certainly wasn’t in the job description when I signed up, but it’s definitely a welcome addition. It shows that the RAN is willing to embrace and try out new technologies to further enhance the capabilities of the fleet and our Navy.”  

    Topics: Media Release, Navy

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