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3-D Printing a Titanium Variable Ballast Tank

Sciaky, Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries, Inc. (PSI), has announced that its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) technology helped International Submarine Engineering (ISE), Ltd. cut time and cost from the production of a titanium variable ballast (VB) tank versus the traditional manufacturing process.

ISE approached Sciaky after the closure of its former supplier, an overseas titanium forging facility that produced propellant tanks for the Russian space program. ISE did not want to risk further delays in its exploration plans, so it reached out to Sciaky, after learning that Sciaky had 3-D printed titanium propellant tanks for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in 2015.

The engineers and project management team at Sciaky put together an aggressive plan to produce a new titanium VB tank for ISE using Sciaky's patented EBAM 3-D printing process. In the end, Sciaky helped ISE reduce production time from 16 weeks to 8 weeks, as well as reduce overall costs as compared to retooling with a new forging supplier. In addition, the VB tank created with Sciaky's EBAM process passed the same vigorous qualification testing as the tank previously created with the forging process. ISE now plans to 3-D print other critical titanium parts with Sciaky's EBAM process.

The titanium VB tank is a sub-system of ISE's Arctic Explorer Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) class of vehicles. ISE previously built two Arctic Explorers for Natural Resources Canada/Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to map the sea floor underneath the Arctic ice shelf in support of Canada's claim under Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Arctic Explorer is the largest of the Explorer AUV class, measuring over 7 m (nearly 23") long and weighing over 2,000 kg (4,409 lbs.). It can be launched from a ship or through an ice-hole and the modular sections can be separated for transportation. Its unique VB system enables it to park on the sea floor or hold itself on the underside of the ice during missions. Rated to 5,000 m (about 3.11 miles) depth, the Arctic Explorer is designed to remain underwater between missions for extended periods of time. A small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) conducts all servicing and charging after the AUV is attached to a docking head.

The VB tank 3-D printed with Sciaky's EBAM process will be installed onboard a new Arctic Explorer AUV that was scheduled for delivery to the University of Tasmania in the spring of 2017. This new Explorer AUV will be deployed in Antarctica after extensive trials and training operations.

"Sciaky is proud to help ISE cut production time by 50% and reduce costs by 3-D printing its titanium VB tank with our one-of-a-kind EBAM process," said Bob Phillips, Vice President of Marketing for Sciaky, Inc. "Our industry-leading EBAM technology is the world's only industrial-scale metal 3-D printing solution with approved parts for land, sea, air and space applications."

Sciaky's lineup of EBAM systems can produce parts ranging from 8" (203 mm) to 19' (5.79 m) in length. EBAM`s gross deposition rates ranging from 7 to 20 lbs. (3.18 to 9.07 kg) of metal per hour. EBAM brings quality and control together with IRISS - the Interlayer Real-time Imaging and Sensing System, which is the only real-time monitoring and control system in the metal 3-D printing market that can sense and digitally self-adjust metal deposition with precision and repeatability. This innovative closed-loop control is the primary reason that "Sciaky's EBAM 3-D printing process delivers consistent part geometry, mechanical properties, microstructure and metal chemistry, from the first part to the last," said a company spokesperson.

For more information contact:

Sciaky, Inc.

4915 W. 67th St.

Chicago, IL 60638-6493

877-450-2518 / 708-594-3800

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