July 31, 2009

Laser technique cuts costs on submarine

An innovative laser-imaging technique could save taxpayers $15.5 million during the building of the Virginia-class submarine, U.S. engineers said.

The 3-D technology allows engineers at Electric Boat, Quonset Point, R.I., to automate the layout of attachments during the building of a hull, facility manager Danielle Fernholz said.

The technology, funded by the Office of Naval Research, could save more than 7,700 hours from the submarine's manufacturing cycle, she said.

The 3-D ship design data has allowed the submarine's engineering team to cut its dependency on string measurements and paper templates, Fernholz said in a release Friday.

A submarine's cylindrical shape is ideally suited to the technology, though other applications in ship building are being considered as engineers become more familiar with the system, she said.