CNC Forming of Steel Plates for VIRGINIA and COLUMBIA Class Submarines

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Project Participants: General Dynamics Electric Boat

Project Start: February 2019

Program Offices for VIRGINIA (VCS) to include the new VIRGINIA Payload Module (VPM), and COLUMBIA (CLB) class submarines have directed a reduction in construction costs. At General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB), plate forming is a manual process dependent on hydraulic forming equipment, annotated paper sketches, wooden templates, and “tribal knowledge” of various steel behaviors.  Currently, formed plate parts are manually laid out and formed to wooden templates using a manually operated press or rolling equipment. GDEB recognizes the importance of mechanized/automated processes to reduce the cost of submarine structures and is interested in taking that mechanization to the next level with a CNC forming process.

The objective of this project is to utilize CNC technology to form steel to computer-generated geometry.  This will allow for better throughput of the forming task, creating better formed parts.  Better formed parts will result in parts that are easier to fit to requirements of the submarine, further reducing labor hours down-stream from the forming process.

The 18-month effort will research, prototype, and validate the concept of utilizing commercial off the shelf (COTS) CNC controlled forming equipment to produce accurate, cold formed submarine parts using Navy required plate materials. Computer controlled forming will be predictable, repeatable, and provide faster first time quality formed parts using work package digital data (WPDD) derived from the design model.