New Poe Lock Arrestor Arm is Largest U.S. Civil Works Component Produced by 3D Printer

By Christi Kleiner  |  Latest News, Locks, Marine Highway
The largest U.S. civil works component produced by 3D printer has been installed on the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. In early March, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) installed the 12-foot-long metal part for the ship arrestor system on the Poe Lock. Following years of research performed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the part was manufactured in 12 weeks, compared to a projected 18-month production time for conventional manufacturing. The part was installed, tested and commissioned in March, during the Soo Locks’ winter maintenance cycle.

USACE Detroit District Structural Engineer Clint Dougherty (left) and Engineer and Research and Development Center Research Mechanical Engineer Dr. Zackery McClelland (right) stand behind the Poe Lock ship arrestor lever arm.

In February 2023, cracks were found in one of the 60-year-old lever arms used to raise and lower a large boom on the Poe Lock’s arresting system. Temporary repairs were made so the lock could operate during the 2023 navigation season.

USACE considered several design options and ultimately selected 3D printing as the best option, awarding the contract for the lever arms to Lincoln Electric.

The Soo Locks mechanical ship arresting system protects the lock’s miter gates, a critical system component, from an emergency impact with a ship. Each lock has two arrestors – one located upstream of each miter gate. 


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