World’s first class approved 3D printed propeller produced

World’s first class approved 3D printed propeller produced

A prototype of the world’s first class approved ship’s propeller has been produced using 3D printing techniques. The 1,350 mm diameter propeller – named WAAMpeller – is the result of a cooperative consortium of companies that includes Damen Shipyards Group, RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas.

The WAAMpeller was fabricated from a nickel aluminium bronze (NAB) alloy at RAMLAB (Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB) in the Port of Rotterdam. The propeller was produced with the wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) method using a Valk welding system and Autodesk software. The triple-blade structure uses a Promarin design that is used on Damen’s Stan Tug 1606. With production complete, the WAAMpeller will be CNC milled at Autodesk’s advanced manufacturing facility in Birmingham, UK.

“This prototype 3D printed propeller represents a steep learning curve of the understanding of material properties. This is because 3D printed materials are built up layer by layer,” commented Kees Custers, project engineer in Damen’s R&D department. “As a consequence, they display different physical properties in different directions – a characteristic known as anisotropy. Steel or casted materials, on the other hand, are isotropic – they have the same properties in all directions.”

This first prototype WAAMpeller will be used for display purposes, and planning for a second example is already underway.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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  1. Gary Floam
    September 12, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    This doesn’t quite make sense to me. Could someone explain why something produced by 3D printing would need welding.

  2. Edwin Edelenbos
    September 13, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Hi Gary,

    welding is a metal deposition technique as much as it is a way to connect two pieces of metal. The 3D printing system basically lays down weld upon weld to build up the material. So no parts were actually welded together, the welding is the 3D printing

  3. Hamilton
    September 13, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    good how will identify cracks in ruffed surface