‘Ships run on diesel and coffee’

Coast Guard sees 3D printing as necessity

Ensign Abigail Isaacs uses a 3D printer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy

Coast Guard sees 3D printing as necessity

3D-printed coffee pot handle

Sarah Saunders has reported on the U.S. Coast Guard adopting 3D printing into its day-to-day operations in her article on Thursday at 3DPrint.com. She writes that five U.S. Coast Guard cutters currently have 3D printers onboard and this branch of the armed forces is also using them in their Surface Forces Logistics Center Engineering Services Division in Baltimore and at Base New Orleans for use in replacing broken or needed objects. In addition, studies at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) in Connecticut are being done to see how 3D printing can improve mission readiness for the Coast Guard.

Examples of naval use of 3D printing dates back to August of last year when we reported on the U.S. Navy saving thousands by 3D-printing radio clips. In Saunder’s story, we learn how the Coast Guard is saving money and staying functional with critical repairs, as in the coffee pot handle shown above for the Coast Guard Cutter James.

Coast Guard sees 3D printing as necessity

3D-printed scullery nozzle

Saunders writes that according to James’ commanding officer Captain Mark Fedor, “’Ships run on diesel and coffee.’ I work alone in my office every day, and I still need caffeine each morning to feel like a functioning human; I can’t imagine being at sea with over 100 other people and no working coffee pot.”

Another example of part repair inarguably essential to the operation of a ship’s galley was a scullery nozzle 3D-printed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy.

Program Manager Capt. Joseph Dugan of the National Security Cutter Program stated, “Sometimes manufacturers no longer make the parts, and need to retool a production line in order to make us the part we need. This can be time-consuming, and very costly to the government.

“I think the utility of the 3D printer is the ability to print parts that are not normally kept onboard. Sometimes those parts have lead times of weeks… maybe months, depending on the workload of the manufacturer.”

We recommend reading the full article at 3DPrint.com and advocate active discussion on the practicality of 3D printing in all maritime use.