A laser imaging technique developed with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR; Arlington, VA, USA; www.onr.navy.mil) could cut more than 7700 man hours from the manufacturing cycle of a Virginia-Class submarine (VCS). Successfully piloted in June 2008, the laser image-projection technology allows the Quonset Point, RI, Electric Boat (EB) manufacturing facility to automate the layout of attachments during the early outfitting stages of the VCS.
The laser imaging technology uses 3-D digital ship-design data generated by a CAD database. Positional data are extracted from the EB product model to determine the quantity and specific location of various attachments. The project team located and attached 4822 electrical and ventilation hangers, and installed approximately 8862 studs in 21 of the 22 VCS hull cylinders during the pilot program. The laser image-projection technology will ultimately equip production workers with direct access to the CAD model information needed to locate/mark points of attachment.