NORFOLK, Va. --- Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) installed the Navy's first afloat mini Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) aboard the carrier, Nov. 13.
Truman Maintenance Officer Cmdr. Al Palmer and MARMC Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Stancy met for the delivery and installation of the mini Fab Lab.
"Ten years from now, these 3D printers may be standard equipment on ships," said Palmer. "We look forward to seeing how our Sailors respond to this new capability."
The mini fab lab consists of two additive manufacturing (3D) printers along with a desktop Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) mill. A large flat screen monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse are also included. The 3D printer has the ability to build many sizes and shapes out of polymers. The CNC mini mill uses subtractive manufacturing processes to create circuit boards.
Truman Sailors have been training in the MARMC Fab Lab since Nov. 10 as an introduction to digital manufacturing and innovation. They trained in 3D rendering programs, soldering basics, and electronic component instruction. The goal of the training is to give them the basic instruction needed to operate a mini Fab Lab while underway.
"A couple of weeks ago we did the same thing with the Kearsarge's Sailors," said MARMC Fab Lab Project Officer Lt. Todd Coursey. "We are choosing bigger ships because they have a more robust personnel pool and more capabilities. This program is all about focusing on education and work force development. We are giving Sailors training and an understanding of what the capabilities are, and we are letting them use these capabilities to help either fix problems in their work spaces or create improvements."
The mini fab lab will be used as a place for Sailors to innovate. Truman Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Raymond Lee said he already sees how this mini Fab Lab can make a difference on his ship.
"I think this mini Fab Lab opens up a lot of doors for quality of life issues and productivity," said Lee. "The equipment that we mostly use, we don't allow people outside of our shop to use due to safety. With the addition of this mini Fab Lab people can come be creative, improve their work life, and thus be more productive."
Stancy is excited about seeing the Fab Lab go onto its first carrier. He said that the Fab Lab is where creativity meets reality.
"This is what the Fab Lab is all about," he said. "The Fab Lab is designed to empower the warfighter to use creative thought to solve an issue in his or her workspace. We appreciate the support from the Truman team and we look forward to working with them as we both move forward with additive manufacturing and innovation."