The U.S. Navy’s Fleet Ballistic program launched Trident II D5 ballistic missiles with 3D printed parts for the first time ever during flight tests held last week, the missiles’ manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, announced in a statement to the media.
The 3D printed part, known as the “connector backshell,” was equipped to three of the missiles, which were launched from a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean as part of an examination of the Trident Strategic Weapon System. The aluminum alloy part is used to guard cable connectors located in the missile.
Lockheed Martin created the new connector backshell for the cable assembly using model-based engineering and 3D printing fabrication. The development process was entirely digital and the new part was developed in half the time it would have taken had it chosen to use its typical methods.
Lockheed Martin said in the statement that the new component exemplifies the capabilities of its Digital Tapestry, which it described as “a set of advanced manufacturing tools that connect a product’s digital life from concept to production to sustainment.”
The Trident II D5 missile is currently used by the U.S. Navy Ohio-class and U.K. Royal Navy Vangard-class submarines to deter nuclear attacks. The missile is capable of traveling 4,000 nautical miles and can lug a number of independently targeted reentry bodies with it.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense