New gadgets help workers do their jobs more efficiently, with less wear and tear on their bodies. A link has been sent to your friend’s email address.

The shipyard’s 3D printers have fabricated all sorts of innovative designs, including this case that houses a series of gears made on a 3D metal printer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport. (Photo: Larry Steagall / Kitsap Sun)Buy Photo When Sam Pruiett started at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 30 years ago, he’d have to improvise when he didn’t have the right tool for the job.

“So if I needed deep sockets for one particular job, I’d saw a socket in half and then weld a piece of pipe to it and I’d use that on every boat,” Pruiett said. “Nowadays, I can go have one 3D printed for me,” he said.  Shops across PSNS have started integrating new gadgets into their operations, whether it’s 3D printers to manufacture tools or virtual reality headsets to teach safety procedures.

The shipyard’s ongoing technological evolution is an employee-driven effort by those who think up a way to improve upon a process or a piece of equipment used in their area of expertise, said shipyard commanding officer Capt. Howard Markle.  “Every one of these new technologies we’re using in the shipyard came to us because someone in our organization said, ‘There’s a better way,'” Markle said.  MORE: Federal government grants Kitsap businesses over $42 million in defense contracts At the shipfitter shop, which received a 3D printer about a year ago, mechanics who think up a way to alter or develop a tool to make their job easier can have a prototype printed up in a matter of a day or two.  The shop has printed mechanic-designed parts ranging from a guide that helps drill a straight line through the dead-center of a pipe to a specialized claw hammer that won’t chip the fresh paint job on the hull of a vessel when removing rubber stoppers.  Some of the innovative new tools fabricated with 3D printers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, including a claw hammer, bottom. (Photo: Larry Steagall / Kitsap Sun) Although devices often have to go through a few rounds of development before they make their way into the hands of shipyard employees, it’s much cheaper to print multiple versions of the device rather than have one manufactured with other materials, said Bob Hewitt, who is in charge of the operating the shop’s printer.  “You’re getting a part that a mechanic can try very quickly,” he said.

“You go through a few iterations and changes until you get something that you can use on a daily basis.”  Printed tools like that claw hammer also have another benefit — they’re much lighter than their metal counterparts.  “Now, instead of having that hammer in your bag with all of your other tools, you’ve got this one in there and it weighs only 10 ounces,” Prueitt said. “On certain parts of the boat, you could be pulling 300 or 400 stoppers off in one day. Read more from…

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