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Additive manufacturing on ships considered at US Navy League show

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US Navy carriers might one day be equipped with additive manufacturing capabilities.

Fox News reports that there were concerns around safety and the “dynamic environment” of a ship, but the technology would be of great potential use, according to officials.

"The powder that's used in the aluminum or titanium is highly flammable," said Lt. Ben Kohlman, Chief of Naval Operations' Rapid Innovation Cell, said at this week’s Sea-Air-Space expo in Maryland when discussing safety considerations

The lack of stability on a ship was another concern, said Tyson Weinert, a Coast Guard commander.

"They can't be subjected to the pitch, the roll, the yaw [of a ship], so now you've got those forces acting on a printer," he said.

"What is the tolerance for that, how will the printer itself react to those other forces? You can try to manage the center of gravity as best you can, try and get the safest sot with the minimal amount of movement, but what is the trade off? What is on the ship already ... versus where will the printers have to go? So that is a whole design process in itself."

The possibility of eventually using additive manufacturing to create replacement organs for injured soldiers or sailors was also raised.

"As opposed to rushing a soldier, or war fighter, or sailor to [a land-based hospital] if you have an emergency,  just print the organ right on the ship, do the surgery right on the ship, save the human's life and not have to disrupt the service,"  offered Thomas Campbell from Virginia Polytechnic, citing Organovo, which hopes to create an artificial liver for clinical tests this year.

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