Ship Vibration Mitigation for Additive Manufacturing Equipment
Navy STTR 2020.A - Topic N20A-T010
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam
Opens: January 14, 2020 - Closes: February 12, 2020 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Ship Vibration Mitigation for Additive Manufacturing Equipment


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: NAVSEA Technology Office (SEA 05T), Cross Platform System Development (CPSD) R&D Program

OBJECTIVE: Develop a process to mitigate the effects of shipboard vibration on additive manufacturing (AM) processes.

DESCRIPTION: The Naval fleet suffers from long lead times to obtain replacements for broken, worn, or otherwise failed parts. When underway, failed parts can only be replaced if the ship’s supply center, which has limited inventory space, has the parts in stock. AM will offer the potential to reduce supply chain issues through shipboard manufacturing of replacement parts on an as-needed basis. The only other method currently available to replace failed parts includes very expensive ship and/or helicopter transport to at-sea vessels. AM creates parts through layer-by-layer deposition from a three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) model, thereby allowing a wide range of parts to be created using a single manufacturing system. Currently available Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) AM systems deposit material using established methodologies and produce known dimensional tolerances. These AM methodologies are designed for printing on land in controlled environments.

In order for the fleet to take advantage of AM in shipboard environments, the challenges associated with transitioning AM to an at-sea environment must be overcome.

The shipboard environment differs from environments normally utilized for AM equipment and presents challenges to consistent component production. One notable challenge is the impact of high-frequency shipboard vibration on AM equipment and resultant component production.

Recent shipboard installation of AM equipment has demonstrated Sailors’ abilities to use the technology to solve problems and print parts that result in reduction of maintenance costs and to increase operational availability of shipboard systems. However, shipboard use of AM and laboratory testing attributes ship motion and high-frequency vibrations, as experienced on an underway ship, to part geometric variability and performance. This STTR topic will therefore develop approaches to mitigate the effects of shipboard vibrations on performance of AM equipment and will result in mitigating part failures. A potential solution includes advanced controls and sensor systems that sense vibrations and adjust AM motion control algorithms to maintain the quality of printed components. Passive and/or tunable mounting systems that mitigate vibrations could also be potential solutions. Since AM, equipment produces a component layer by layer, the mass on the build plate increases with time. This may influence the vibration response of the build plate and/or the printer. Adaptive vibration models that respond to changing shipboard conditions may be required. Integrating in-situ inspection and machine learning (ML) should be considered to improve effectiveness of the vibration mitigation approach.

The Government will provide sample geometries and mechanical test specimens to be printed under defined vibration frequencies. The resultant prints will be analyzed dimensionally and tested mechanically to determine effectiveness of vibration mitigation. The objective of this topic is a vibration mitigation system that can be integrated shipboard with an AM material extrusion system to enable operations in shipboard environments without an adverse impact to the quality and performance of the printed components.

PHASE I: Develop a concept to mitigate the effects of motion/vibration on a material extrusion AM system. Establish feasibility of the concept through modeling and analysis. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and integrate a prototype with the commercially available AM equipment defined in Phase I that mitigates the effects of motion/vibration on the AM equipment system, and can be tested on a vibration test machine. Produce test specimens under controlled motion and vibration that will be analyzed to determine the effect of the mitigation technique. If cost effective, test the prototype on existing AM equipment installed on a surface platform. Develop a detailed plan for Phase III.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Install the technology on a surface ship platform. Throughout the surface ship’s deployment, collect data that identifies the motion/vibration profiles and resultant print quality. Use this data to validate and qualify the technology and enable certification of components produced through the effort.

The resultant technology will be applicable to AM equipment installed on non-Department of Defense platforms within the maritime industry. It may also be used for shore installations, including those forward deployed, to isolate printers from vibrations. The United States Marine Corps and U.S. Army will also benefit from a successful solution to mitigate the impacts of vibrations experienced in forward deployed environments.


1. Strickland, Jason. “Applications of Additive Manufacturing in the Marine Industry.” Practical Design of Ships and Offshore Structures (PRADS) 2016, Copenhagen, DK.10.13140/RG.2.2.29930.31685.

2. Leonard, Joshua. “Stennis Engineers Use 3D Printer to Make Repairs to Critical Systems.” U.S. Navy Official Website. Release Date: 12/20/2018.

KEYWORDS: Additive Manufacturing; AM; 3D Printing; Motion Compensation; Vibration Compensation; Dynamic Environmental Control; Advanced Manufacturing