Navatek and UMaine win $5M Navy contract for research into additive manufacturing for Navy vessels

Orono and Portland, Maine — The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Navatek LLC and the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) a $5 million contract to research materials and novel manufacturing tools and methods to improve the design and construction of Navy and Marine Corps vessels; maximizing the speed, range, payload and survivability for Naval missions, while lowering cost and build time.

This research will explore opportunities to apply additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing) to surface vessel design and construction. The research will develop tools and techniques that will enable engineers to increase trust in additively manufactured structures, evaluate new materials, produce more complex structures, improve throughput, and reduce cost. The work will culminate in applying these technologies and tools to design USVs using a modular approach to vessel structural design.

“The Navy’s decision to fund cutting-edge research in Maine is a testament to our state’s extremely talented shipbuilders, engineers and academic institutions,” said U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden. “This investment will support the extraordinary research being done by the University of Maine’s faculty and staff along with their partner, Navatek, to improve naval technology and better protect our sailors, while also creating good-paying jobs. We are proud that this work to strengthen our national security will be conducted right here in the state of Maine.”

Navatek is continuing its partnership with UMaine’s  Advanced Structures and Composites Center; a worldwide leader in composites and additive manufacturing technology. The University of Maine will design, evaluate, fabricate, and test composite materials and structures for this project.

“Our collaboration with Navatek is what attracted them to opening offices in Maine. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Navatek and the ONR, creating transformative knowledge in advanced manufacturing for the Navy and transferring that knowledge into high-paying, Maine-based jobs,” said Habib Dagher, ASCC executive director. “Our research, advanced manufacturing and testing will help open the design space for 3D printed parts and frameless additive manufacturing to be applied to new vessels for the Navy. This project is a result of UMaine’s work last year where we commissioned the largest polymer 3D printer in the world at UMaine-ASCC and 3D printed a 25-foot-long, 5,000-pound patrol vessel.”

“Navatek is proud to work with the University of Maine in support of the Navy and Marine Corps’s goal of fielding unmanned surface vessels or USVs,” said Martin Kao, Navatek CEO. “Along with our office in Portland, Navatek recently opened a second office in Bangor, which is collocated with the University of Maine to increase collaboration. We are expanding our presence in the state to 80 engineers and scientists in our Bangor and Portland offices over the course of these programs, with room to grow to over 120 in our new facilities, expected in 2021.”

About Navatek:

Navatek is a leading provider of innovative research and development services for the Department of Defense, NASA, and other government agencies. Historically a provider of naval architecture and modeling and simulation services, its portfolio has diversified to encompass digital twins, power and energy systems, unmanned vehicles, robotics, autonomy, AI/ML, data science, inflatables, composites, and additive manufacturing. Since its founding in Hawaii in 1979, Navatek has grown to open offices in Rhode Island, Maine, Virginia, Michigan, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kansas. (Note: Navatek will be changing its name to Martin Defense Group in September 2020).

About University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center:

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center is a world leader in composite materials R&D. Founded through the National Science Foundation in 1996, it is housed in a 100,000-square-foot laboratory with 250 employees. The center has received top international awards for its research and has over 500 clients and partners world-wide. A number of private Maine businesses have spun off from the center’s research. The center pioneered the development of floating offshore wind turbines by designing and deploying the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in the U.S. in 2013. The center houses the Alfond W2 (Wind-Wave) Ocean Engineering Laboratory, a unique facility with a high-accuracy wind generator over a multi-directional wave basin, as well as the Offshore Wind Laboratory, the second largest wind blade testing facility in the U.S. In 2019, the center commissioned the largest polymer 3D printer in the world. It won Guinness World records for 3Dirigo, the largest 3D printed boat in the world, a 25-foot-long 5,000-pound patrol vessel that was printed in 72 hours.

About the University of Maine:
The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state’s land grant, sea grant and space grant university. It is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. As Maine’s flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is the state’s only public research university and among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast. It attracts students from all 50 states and more than 70 countries. UMaine currently enrolls 11,561 undergraduate and graduate students who have opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research with world-class scholars. UMaine offers more than 100 degree programs through which students can earn master’s, doctoral or professional science master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide to conserve energy, recycle and adhere to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit