The laboratory was initially set up in 1953 in a small work centre admeasuring 6000 sq.ft. at Naval Dockyard, Bombay to render the scientific assistance to the Dockyard as well as the fleet in their day to day maintenance problem. Within a period of 10-15 years, technologies in the field of underwater anti-corrosive and anti-fouling paints and cathodic protection comparable in performance to western countries were developed. Furthermore, import of almost all marine paints was discontinued.
The scope of the laboratory widened in mid seventies as a result of continuous interaction with the users and accumulation of knowledge regarding the scientific and technological needs of the Navy. A gradual transformation from development towards import substitution to R&D activities, leading to better materials such as high strength steel, transducer ceramics and speciality polymeric materials started taking roots in the laboratory. In view of the expertise gained in R&D of materials and the laboratory’s success in delivering a reasonably good number of products to the user, DRDO credited the laboratory in 1995 by re-christening it as Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL). NMRL under its present charter has been pursuing basic research as well as application-oriented technology development in several frontier areas like metallurgy, polymer, ceramics, coating, corrosion and electrochemical protection, marine biology, etc. NMRL has been given the status of single window for materials for Naval applications.
Simultaneously, the thrust areas for R&D activities of the laboratory were approved and relevant projects were sanctioned to the laboratory in the early nineties. Guided by the initial success of the laboratory in the thrust area programmes, DRDO approved the necessity of expansion and modernization of the laboratory. This resulted in the creation of full-fledged 25 acres technical-cum-residential complex at Ambernath in 1997.
With the increase in R&D activities in the field of advanced materials and taking up of mega multi disciplinary projects, additional 25 acre land has been acquired and advanced work centres viz Power system Engineering Centre, Polymer Science and Technology Centre and Integrated test facility for Naval platforms have been created.