Australia’s Submarine Corporation, ASC, is collaborating with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and DMTC Limited, to pioneer the use of additive manufacturing for the repair of Collins Class submarines.
The partners have joined forces to further develop supersonic ‘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.
“It’s vitally important for ASC to be on the cutting edge of submarine sustainment innovation, to continually improve Australia’s submarine availability to the Royal Australian Navy service. The use of additive manufacturing for the repair of critical submarine components, including the pressure hull, will mean faster, less disruptive repairs for our front line Collins Class submarine fleet.”
ASC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Whiley
The project will see ASC engineers working with CSIRO’s Lab22 research facility for additive manufacturing of metals, in Melbourne, to develop portable equipment for in-situ repair in the confines of a submarine.
“CSIRO and ASC have been working together for a number of years, exploring ways to use cold spray of nickel to repair corrosion. 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,”
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 organization, primarily in supporting the Collins Class submarine fleet.
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