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Mon, Nov 14, 2022

Navy Shares Story of In-House Student Innovation

Innovation Hub Program Bears Fruit for Students at Naval Test Pilot School

The Navy's innovation and development program has proven its worth for those requiring rapid prototyping and 3d printing, as shown in a story shared earlier this month.

The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s (NAWCAD) Innovation Hub (iHub) completed a new bracket for cockpit testing, obtaining a special-use piece of equipment with rapid, in-house additive manufacture. Thanks to iHub's rapid iterative capabilities, the bracket mount was able to be streamlined and revised to the point of perfection - all without outside commercial vendors. 

The project proves out the utility of the iHub program, an arm of the NAWCAD Technology and Strategic Operations Office designed to "foster innovation and inspire collaborations that together spur timely improvements to naval aviation’s readiness, responsiveness and lethality." The origin of the bracket came from Army Major Chris Dudley, a Test Pilot Student prepping for his final evaluation by designing a flexible, reconfigurable bracket to aid in measuring the amount of control travel in their assessment aircraft. Showing his design and home-printed product to his instructor, Lieutenant Commander David Rozovsky, soon got the ball rolling to find someone to produce additional units for other Test Pilot School students. 

“A few things immediately stood out to me about Chris’ design,” Rozovsky said. “Typically people will design something for a particular environment, but he incorporated enough flexibility in the design to allow it to be used in a multitude of different aircraft. If you bought a system like this from a commercial vendor, it would cost thousands of dollars and require us to go through a lengthy contracting process. Whereas using 3D printing, you’re looking at tens of dollars and a matter of hours or days to accomplish something with the same level of precision. It seemed like a natural project for the iHub."

Working with iHub paid off from the get-go when the school received dozens of copies of Dudley's bracket kit within a week. The rest of Class 161 was able to receive theirs before their upcoming evaluations, too. Best of all, it cost them nothing, the benefits of printing in-house.

FMI: www.navair.navy.mil

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