Hunt Valve Tapped to Produce First 3D-Printed Part for US Subs

SALEM, Ohio – Hunt Valve, a subsidiary of Wisconsin-based Fairbanks Morse Defense, has been awarded a contract to produce a 3D-printed valve assembly for U.S. Navy submarines, the company announced.

The contract, awarded by the Maritime Sustainment Technology and Innovation Consortium, is the first of its kind and would be the first 3D-printed assembly to be installed in a U.S. submarine. The 70-pound assembly would provide the Navy with a product that meets or exceeds the quality produced through traditional sand-casting in about two-thirds less time.

“The utilization of additive manufacturing assembly with copper-nickel for large valve production is a real step forward for our industry,” said Andrew Pfister, vice president, aftermarket and product development at Fairbanks Morse Defense. “Not only does it create a superior product in terms of quality, but the process can significantly reduce lead-in times.”

Until recently, additive manufacturing for submarine components has been possible only for small parts and pieces, and applications for challenging alloys such as copper-nickel have been rare, the company stated in a press release. Sand-casted copper-nickel is highly porous and often results in a high fall-out rate that can challenge delivery timeliness. In contrast, valve bodies created through 3D printing have drastically higher first-time yields, which accelerates the production and delivery time frame since the manufacturer no longer needs to build in additional production time to account for the fall-out rate.

Hunt Valve’s contract with the Maritime Sustainment Technology and Innovation Consortium will allow the 3D valve to be installed on any U.S. submarine class. The expanded use of additive manufacturing is expected to speed up component production for the Navy fleet by up to 75%.

“Innovative technologies such as additive manufacturing are essential for building the submarine industrial base to overcome supply chain challenges,” Pfister said. “By scaling additive manufacturing, we can reduce shipping from other parts of the world and increase the speed of production at home – which positively impacts the Navy’s overall strategic goal to deliver a 300-plus fleet.”

Hunt Valve, with offices at 1913 E. State St., is developing the new valve in collaboration with Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric, which will 3D print the valve body. Once “printed,” the valve body is delivered to Hunt Valve to manufacture the remaining components using the standard manufacturing method and then assemble all the parts to create the full valve assembly.

Fairbanks Morse, a subsidiary of EnPro Industries, acquired Hunt Valve in 2021.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.