Marking a major step forward in the application of 3D printing techniques in the maritime sector, Damen Shipyards has entered a cooperative consortium with RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas. The goal of this group is to develop the world’s first class approved 3D printed ship’s propeller, to be called the WAAMpeller.
Damen’s involvement in the project began just over a year ago as a result of one of its in-house student research programmes.
“Three students from Delft Technical University were investigating the potential of 3D printing for us. They brought us into contact with the other members of the consortium,” explained Kees Custers, project engineer in Damen’s research and development department. “What is quite unique about this group of five companies is that, while we have joint interests, we also have individual aims. This leads to a very productive and cooperative atmosphere in what is a very exciting project.”
The propeller will be based on a Promarin design that is typically found on a Damen Stan Tug 1606. This 1,300 mm diameter propeller weighs approximately 180kg. Using Autodesk software in the construction process, Port of Rotterdam’s RAMLAB will fabricate the WAAMpeller from a bronze alloy using the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process.
Bureau Veritas will be involved in the certification of the completed product; in what will be the first time that a metal 3D printed maritime component will be approved by class.
Once the propeller has been printed, Damen’s role will continue with full-scale trials.
“We will be performing a comprehensive programme that will include bollard pull and crash test scenarios. Our ambition is to demonstrate that the research phase for 3D printing in the maritime sector is over, and that it can now be effectively applied in operations,” Custers said.
The first propeller is expected to be printed by this summer, with subsequent testing occurring in the autumn.