Metal 3D Printing Cuts Production Time for Titanium Variable Ballast Tank in Half
Jazib Kaleem posted on February 07, 2017 |
Designing and printing the variable ballast tank (Image courtesy of Sciaky.)
Designing and printing the variable ballast tank (Image courtesy of Sciaky.)
Sciaky, a developer of industrial metal 3D printing technology recently announced that it has helped International Submarine Engineering (ISE) Ltd. reduce production time and costs for its Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). This was achieved through the additive manufacture of the AUV’s titanium variable ballast (VB) tank using Sciaky’s Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) technology.

With its patented Closed Loop Control technology, EBAM has enabled Sciaky’s engineers to produce a titanium variable ballast tank for ISE in 8 weeks, compared to the 16 weeks taken by traditional methods.

The titanium variable ballast tank created with EBAM. (Image courtesy of Sciaky.)
The titanium variable ballast tank created with EBAM. (Image courtesy of Sciaky.)
EBAM technology is compatible with a variety of metals and alloys, including titanium, stainless steel, tantalum, tungsten, niobium, Zircaloy and Inconel. It can be used to produce prototypes or parts of up to 19 feet in length, irrespective of their geometry.

Using a CAD model of the part, a fully articulated moving electron beam deposits the metal layer-by-layer using a wire feedstock. According to Sciaky, the deposition rate of EBAM ranges from 7 to 20 pounds per hour.

3D Printing in Land, Sea, Air and Space

ISE’s Arctic Explorer AUV (Image courtesy of ISE.)
ISE’s Arctic Explorer AUV (Image courtesy of ISE.)
The titanium VB tank is a constituent system of ISE’s Arctic Explorer autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), to be used by Defence Research and Development Canada’s (DRDC) exploration and mapping of the seafloor underneath the Arctic ice shelf. The Arctic Explorer is rated for a depth of 5000 meters (16,404 feet) underwater.

Sciaky was approached by ISE after the company’s former supplier, a foreign titanium forging facility that produced propellers, was closed. It’s also worth noting that the Arctic Explorer tanks made using EBAM passed the same qualification tests as the UUV tanks earlier created using the forging process.

"Our industry-leading EBAM technology is the world's only industrial-scale metal 3D printing solution with approved parts for land, sea, air and space applications," said Bob Phillips, VP of marketing for Sciaky.

The company has already employed EBAM for its technology partners, which include The Department of Defense, US Air Force, Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Penn State University Applied Research Lab.

Dennis Little, VP of production at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, has stated that he hopes to use Sciaky’s expertise to 3D print an entire satellite in the future.

For more information, visit the Sciaky website.

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