Pictured from left are Michael Reilley, Terry Tyler Jr., John Ralls, Randy Bethea and Dave Bolcar.

Shipbuilder Honored for Additive Manufacturing Efforts

Published November 23, 2022

Dr. John Ralls, principal engineer for Additive Manufacturing at Newport News Shipbuilding, was recently honored with the Office of the Chief Engineer’s Technical Achievement Award. The award recognizes significant technical achievement, and is a result of Ralls’ ongoing efforts in the area of additive manufacturing (AM).

Ralls has led NNS’ team of engineers in technology development, system parameter development, material characterization, manufacturing process and qualification testing.

“John has done a tremendous job setting the baseline for the understanding of metal AM technology and identifying the best processes for maximizing the benefits to NNS and our Navy customer,” said NNS Chief Engineer Mike Reilley. “NNS is the leading player in the Navy shipbuilding space for AM, and John has gotten us here while maintaining the high standards of technical rigor the Navy expects from NNS.”

The journey of AM took off in 2014, when Ralls and his team were challenged to get an AM part on a nuclear-powered warship by the end of 2016. The drain strainer orifice was delivered to the government in September 2017 and later installed on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The installation of this part was the culmination of hundreds of test samples and a test report of over 600 pages.

NNS currently has two metal AM machines, with a third expected. The size of the AM parts NNS produces has grown as well. The drain strainer orifice installed on CVN 75 can be held in the palm of a hand, while recent parts are measured in feet. The largest of these parts is being constructed of roughly 2,000 pounds of deposited material.

“Although we still have many challenges to overcome, AM would not be as far along the implementation path as it is without the dedicated and persistent efforts and leadership from Dr. Ralls,” Reilley said.