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Updated: July 29, 2020

Navatek and UMaine win $5M Navy contract for research into 3D manufacturing

File photo / Laurie Schreiber Navatek and the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center $5 million Navy contract resulted from UMaine’s work last year to commission the largest polymer 3D printer in the world, seen here at its unveiling.

Navatek LLC and the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center have won a $5 million contract to research materials and novel manufacturing tools and methods to improve the design and construction of Navy and Marine Corps vessels.

The goal is to maximize the speed, range, payload and survivability for naval missions, while lowering cost and build time, according to a news release.

The contract came from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research.

The research will explore opportunities to apply additive manufacturing, commonly called 3D printing, to surface vessel design and construction. The research will develop tools and techniques that will enable engineers to evaluate new materials, produce more complex structures, improve throughput and reduce cost.

The ultimate goal of the work is to apply the technologies and tools to design unmanned surface vessels, using a modular approach to vessel structural design.

The project is a continuation of Navatek’s partnership with the UMaine center, which will design, evaluate, fabricate and test composite materials and structures for the project.

“Our collaboration with Navatek is what attracted them to opening offices in Maine,” Habib Dagher, the center’s executive director, said in the release. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with Navatek and the ONR [Office of Naval Research], creating transformative knowledge in advanced manufacturing for the Navy and transferring that knowledge into high-paying, Maine-based jobs.”

The research, advanced manufacturing and testing is expected to help open the design space for 3D-printed parts and frameless additive manufacturing to be applied to new vessels for the Navy. 

File photo / Laurie Schreiber
To showcase its potential at its unveiling last year, UMaine used its 3D printer to print a 25-foot-long, nonfunctional patrol vessel in a matter of days.

“This project is a result of UMaine’s work last year where we commissioned the largest polymer 3D printer in the world at UMaine-ASCC and 3D printed a 25-foot-long, 5,000-pound patrol vessel,” Dagher said.

File photo / Laurie Schreiber
Habib Dagher

“Navatek is proud to work with the University of Maine in support of the Navy and Marine Corps’s goal of fielding unmanned surface vessels or USVs,” Martin Kao, Navatek’s CEO, said in the release.

“Along with our office in Portland, Navatek recently opened a second office in Bangor, which is collocated with the University of Maine to increase collaboration. We are expanding our presence in the state to 80 engineers and scientists in our Bangor and Portland offices over the course of these programs, with room to grow to over 120 in our new facilities, expected in 2021.”

Navatek is also expanding its Portland operations. The naval design and engineering firm has moved into 4,800 square feet of new laboratory and shop space on the first floor of Building D at the Portland Co. Marine Complex, at 100 West Commercial St.

In September, Navatek will take over 7,560 square feet of office space on the second and third floors of Building D. And plans are underway to construct an additional 15,000 square feet of office space that will be ready for occupancy in September 2021. It also has 6,424 square feet at 80 Exchange St. in Bangor.

In 2019, Navatek won an $8 million Navy contract to improve the design and construction of small watercraft that can operate safely at high speed in rough seas.

The three-year project involves collaboration with Front Street Shipyard in Belfast and the University of Maine.

In 2019, Navatek won an $8 million Navy contract to improve the design and construction of small watercraft in rough seas, a collaboration with the University of Maine and Front Street Shipyard of Belfast.


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