Advanced Metalworking Solutions for
Naval Systems that Go in Harm's Way

Shape Cutting and Welding Automation

Automating the cutting and welding of stiffeners will reduce shipbuilding costs and improve the schedule due to reduced labor and improved efficiency and quality. Ingalls photo


The Navy Metalworking Center (NMC) is leading a ManTech project to improve how stiffeners are fabricated for several surface ships.


Ship frames are comprised of I-beam stiffeners that are manually cut and welded to various shapes, lengths, and geometries, according to the ship design. Workers manually lay out the stiffeners, cut them with oxy-fuel torches, and then fit and weld attachments and protrusions to them.

Technical Approach

An NMC-led Integrated Project Team (IPT) is characterizing the current causes of inaccuracies and inconsistent quality of these fabricated stiffeners; developing process improvements; and designing, building, and testing tooling and prototype equipment to automate the stiffener manufacturing process.


The project’s solutions will reduce labor and rework and increase accuracy and throughput, significantly lowering costs and improving the production schedule. The automated technologies used to cut and weld the stiffeners will be implemented at Ingalls Shipbuilding (Ingalls) and are expected to save $6.1 million during a five-year period across several platforms in labor savings alone.


The IPT will develop prototype systems and tooling that will be tested for functionality and efficiency at the Ingalls stiffener fabrication area. Upon successful completion of the project, results will be implemented at Ingalls in support of LHA, LPD, and DDG 51, as well as the Coast Guard’s NSC , starting in the fourth quarter of FY16.




Todd Hellman
PMS 400D


Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division
Ingalls Shipbuilding
PMS 400D - DDG 51 Program Office