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    Prize Challenge aims to develop rapid design tool for handwheel parts on ships

    Prize Challenge aims to develop rapid design tool for handwheel parts on ships

    Photo By Evan Crawley | Lewis Shattuck (from left), a mechanical engineer in the Naval Undersea Warfare Center...... read more read more



    Story by Public Affairs Office 

    Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport

    NEWPORT, R.I. – In his experience as the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport’s additive manufacturing lead, mechanical engineer Lewis Shattuck of the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department has seen the need to streamline the process from reverse engineering to manufacturing a needed component.

    In collaborating with the Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) Command Technology Office (SEA 05T) and representatives with other warfare centers, it became clear a specific example was needed for this refinement process. So, an item found on all naval ships — the handwheel — was selected as the prototype example.

    “Handwheels are pretty ubiquitous among ships, as they have a number of different diameters and configurations,” Ben Bouffard, division director, SEA 05T, said. “Over the past few years, we’ve walked the deck plate with Sailors and asked, ‘what are your headaches?’ The handwheels have repeatedly come up.”

    Ranging from two-inch polymer supply-line valves to metal handwheels several feet in diameter, ships may have hundreds of different variations of handwheels. They’re used to open and close a wide variety of valves and can be made from a number of different materials. These factors create a challenge if one were to break, since it is difficult to keep every type of handwheel on ships and this might result in critical equipment lying dormant in need of a particular part.

    “Handwheels were identified as an ideal means to prototype this parametric tool,” Shattuck said. “The Prize Challenge construct was recognized as an efficient and cost-effective means to develop a solution.”

    Shattuck, Division Newport, SEA 05T, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Philadelphia Division, the NavalX Northeast Tech Bridge and 401 Tech Bridge are working together to manage the “U.S. Navy Challenge: Rapid Design Tool for Advanced Manufacturing” in an effort to solve this problem.

    This Prize Challenge was announced during a webinar held May 14.

    A $30,000 prize is on the line for the company that can develop software tools to automatically produce computer-aided design (CAD) files for the needed handwheel, allowing for on-demand and at-sea production of replacement parts. The Prize Challenge is open on the 401 Tech Bridge Site

    until July 13 at 11:59 p.m., EST. Late submissions will not be considered.
    Given all the different configurations of handwheels, bringing extra to sea is unrealistic. The process of reverse engineering and 3D printing the necessary parts aboard also can be time consuming and difficult. After analyzing this problem, it was determined the solution is to develop a system where Sailors can easily measure the needed part and seamlessly translate that into digital data for a 3D printer.

    “We need to make sure that the executable file that comes out is something that can be used right away,” Scott Storms, an engineer at NSWC Philadelphia, said. “We’re looking for a smooth user interface for a standalone software tool in a common environment. If an input is incorrect, the system must be able to be notify the Sailor that they are incorrectly inputting the measurement so they can go back and measure again or check the numbers.”

    “This is another relatively new and exciting way to get a problem solved by reaching out to industry and innovators that don’t usually work with Department of Defense,” Steve Bordonaro, director of the Northeast Tech Bridge, said. “Through the tech bridge, we really try to make that process easy for the program managers. The prize challenge is a quick and efficient way to reach out to industry to get a problem solved and it has a broader reach than the Navy usually has.”

    The NavalX Northeast Tech Bridge is part of a connected NavalX Tech Bridge network that enhances collaboration between Navy labs, industry, academia and other military branches. The Northeast Tech Bridge is coordinated by Bordonaro at Division Newport.

    The 401 Tech Bridge, a nonprofit entity in Rhode Island and business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation, serves as a super-connector for companies that are developing leading-edge advanced materials, technologies and products. The 401 Tech Bridge has a partnership agreement with Division Newport to support the Northeast Tech Bridge, increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation by connecting Navy and industry technical problems to companies, universities and innovation partners.

    If you are a Navy program manager with funding to solve a technical challenge, reach out to the Northeast Tech Bridge at and they will run a prize for you.

    NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

    NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.



    Date Taken: 06.25.2021
    Date Posted: 06.25.2021 13:04
    Story ID: 399756
    Location: NEWPORT, RI, US 

    Web Views: 38
    Downloads: 0