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Printed Sand Mold Technology Investigated to Improve Producibility of Submarine HY Steel Castings


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Use of 3-D printed sand molds to cast complex HY parts is expected to provide producibility improvements. EB illustration

S2635 Printed Sand Casting Molds and Cores for HY Steel


The Navy Metalworking Center conducted a Navy ManTech project that investigated the use of printed sand mold technology to produce complex high yield (HY) strength steel castings for the COLUMBIA class submarine (CLB) and VIRGINIA class submarine (VCS) programs. These components are currently produced as steel weldments, which are challenging and expensive to manufacture. Printed sand mold technology offers the ability to rapidly design and produce molds and cast complex geometries that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve as weldments or conventional castings.


Process Improvement:

Design of experiments (DOE) was used to quantify the effects of eight critical production variables on casting quality, mechanical properties, and surface chemistry relative to Naval Sea Systems Command Technical Publication T9074-BD-GIB-010/0300 Revision 2. The DOE findings were verified by comparing the results of a demonstration casting to its production counterparts made by conventional mold production methods. Results of the work, including a draft requirements document, will be useful in completing future qualification efforts for use of the technology.

Implementation and Technology Transfer:

Implementation is on hold due to an IPT decision to discontinue the project since the business case was supported by an insufficient number of applications, resulting in an inadequate return on investment. The NMC project manager will continue ongoing dialogue with project Technical Assistant to discuss how the Navy can further benefit from implementing the technology.

Expected Benefits:

  • Reduced rework and material handling
  • Improved part quality and consistency
  • Rapid changes to casting shapes during component development
  • Casting single-piece parts in place of multi-piece assemblies


  • PMS 397
  • PMS 450
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division
  • General Dynamics Electric Boat
  • The ExOne Company
  • Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Keyport
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Bradken Tacoma
  • NMC
  • ONR Navy ManTech
For more information, contact:
Mr. Rob Akans
Senior Technical Director