The Royal Australian Navy will deploy a metal 3D printer in what the government described as a "world-first trial".
The two year pilot will cost $1.5 million for SPEE3D's Supersonic Deposition 3D printer to be deployed to streamline the maintenance of patrol vessels.
According to defence industry minister Melissa Price, the Royal Australian Navy expects the printer to significantly increase the availability of parts, compared to what a regular supply chain can provide.
SPEE3D is based in Darwin and was founded by Byron Kennedy and Steven Camilleri. It claims its printers enable the "most affordable" metal additive manufacturing process "in the world".
"They make metal parts the fastest way possible, leveraging metal cold spray technology to produce industrial quality metal parts in just minutes, rather than days or weeks. The process harnesses the power of kinetic energy, rather than relying on high-power lasers and expensive gasses," SPEE3D states on its website.
In order to make this technology available, SPEE3D and Charles Darwin University (CDU) founded the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (AMA) to progress the research and advancement of advanced manufacturing technologies with strategic focus on the Australian invention of SP3D (supersonic 3D deposition).
Price said the high-tech machinery enables metal components to be produced quickly and efficiently, "meaning our ships can get back on the water without delay”.
“Benefiting both the Navy and industry, the knowledge transfer gained using this capability also positions the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance to pursue further opportunities," Price said.
Gartner predicted that 2019 would see 3D printed metals and alloys become a critical element in supply chains for replacement parts in commercial, military and even some consumer markets.