NUWC’s 3D printing center overcomes the problem COVID-19

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The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport’s additive manufacturing center has remained open for business during the Coronavirus pandemic through innovative thinking and creative adjustments to the work center.

Additive Manufacturing technology allows for the rapid development and production of items ranging from personal protective equipment (PPE) to parts for ships and submarines.

Bryce Weber, Division Technology Manager for Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport’s Rapid Prototyping & Fabrication Technology Division, said the Keyport team’s response to the pandemic has been impressive.

“Everyone has risen to the challenge, (…), Our Rapid Prototyping team adapts quickly to unexpected design, manufacturing, logistics, and procurement challenges every day. Figuring out creative ways to work around COVID-19 has almost been straightforward by comparison!”

-Bryce Weber

He said one of the advantages that allowed the Rapid Prototyping team to adjust so quickly is the layout of the work center. The large 3D printers are already spaced out some distance from one another.

“Typically, the work being done in these spaces doesn’t require many people to be in close proximity to one another,(…), This means our workforce is already ‘socially distancing,’ so our ability to protect our team has a good foundation.”

– Bryce Weber

Weber said clear communication is required within the team to ensure all cleaning protocols are consistently followed since the team is working on a staggered schedule to help increase physical distance between employees. Vigilance is kept high to make sure no detail is missed, from cleaning the spaces to ensuring employees have access to PPE.

“We’ve been extra vigilant to ensure spaces are disinfected and that personal protection is always available, (…), Employees have been equipped with face coverings and instructed to wear them during times when group discussions are required. Since our team is conveniently manufacturing PPE, we’ve made the best of the situation and test out our mask and shield designs for fit and long-term wearability.”

– Bryce Weber

The fact that NUWC Keyport’s additive manufacturing center never closed down means the command was quickly able to design, create or repair PPE for local medical providers. NUWC Keyport is currently supporting local civilian medical personnel, Naval Hospital Bremerton and U.S. Forces Korea with PPE. Weber said this dedication is both inspiring and will continue as long as the support is needed.

“The Keyport team has rallied around this effort in every facet, from procurement to logistics, engineering and leadership. We’ve hit very few roadblocks at the execution level, allowing for a very fast pace,(…) Each day the team is able to prototype new designs, develop new manufacturing processes, and deliver PPE hardware.”, said Bryce Weber.

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Nathaneal Miller, DVIDS Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Undersea Warfare Center’s Additive Manufacturing Center is Open for Business published on May8 2020, re-edited and published by João Andrade on May12 2020;

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