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NNS Digitizes Sheet Metal Shops with Custom Programming

Customer Challenge

Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) founded in 1886 as the Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Co., has built over 800 ships, both naval and commercial. Their facilities, which are located in Newport News, Virginia, cover more than 550 acres and are strategically located in one of the East Coast's finest harbors. They are the largest industrial employer in Virginia and the largest shipbuilding enterprise in the United States.  The NNS team of expert craftsmen performed calculations, sketched out designs, transferred the designs to metal, and cut the metal all by hand. 

Impressed with NNS’s history and reputation, Anthony Ugoletti, joined the company right out of college from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown as a Manufacturing Engineer supporting the sheet metal shops. Although new to the shipbuilding industry, Anthony brought extensive experience with Autodesk software and he recognized the need to automate some of the manual shop floor processes to improve overall efficiencies and shop manufacturing throughput. He introduced the NNS sheet metal team to Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.

Project Goals

“While replicating the manual processes in Autodesk AutoCAD, I realized that we needed a tool to automate the work,” said Anthony. “We needed the tool to accomplish our goal of fully digitizing the sheet metal lagging creation without requiring our craftsmen to have an in-depth knowledge of Autodesk AutoCAD or Autodesk Inventor.”


After an initial conversation with Anthony, the IMAGINiT account representative for NNS put together a team of experts from IMAGINiT’s Manufacturing Solutions Division. Together, they visited the shipyard to fully understand the scope of the project. They met with NNS craftsmen to see the product, review their current manual processes, and identify areas for improvement. The IMAGINiT team then developed a digitization solution that included moving NNS from Autodesk AutoCAD to the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing collection, which includes both Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk AutoCAD and offers more efficient collaboration and automation tools. In addition to that, a custom software program built by IMAGINiT experts using Autodesk Inventor to automate the NNS team’s calculations and design process to generate the lagging assemblies, parts, and flat patterns based upon inputs from the user as well as scans of the lagging rods. Lastly, integrating the NNS team’s technology that scans the lagging rods into Autodesk Inventor software.

Business Outcome

Moving from the manual to automated processes has brought NNS numerous benefits by increasing the efficiency that decreased sketching and layout time and increased manufacturing throughout. Next is improving the safety through the elimination of repetitive motion required for hand drawings and use of band saws for cutting individual components. Finally is by enhancing the customer and employee satisfaction through the use of digital manufacturing and CNC equipment to improve individual quality of life and component quality.


“This project went smoothly and was so successful because of the knowledge and commitment of the IMAGINiT team. They helped us completely transform the shop into a safer environment that is more efficient with the same staff working the same hours and same equipment, using Autodesk products.”, said Anthony.

Project Summary

Delivery Date


Project Duration

31 days

Autodesk Solutions

  • Inventor

Services Provided

  • Implementation
  • Process Automation
  • Workflow Optimization
  • Software Development & Customization

Customer Industry

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