Following a rigorous testing process, verified by Bureau Veritas, the world’s first class approved 3D printed ship’s propeller, the WAAMpeller, has been unveiled at Damen Shipyard Group’s headquarters in the Netherlands. This ground-breaking success is the result of a close collaboration between RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk, Bureau Veritas and Damen.
The five-company partnership started pooling their collective resources and knowledge to develop the world’s first 3D printed ship’s propeller seven months ago. Promarin provided the design of the triple-blade propeller. The Port of Rotterdam’s RAMLAB (Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB) carried out fabrication using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) techniques with Autodesk’s Powermill software. Damen provided Research and Development resources in addition to one of its Stan Tug 1606 vessels for operational testing purposes. Bureau Veritas’ role was to verify the entire development, production and testing process.
298 layers of 3D printing
The consortium reached its first milestone in August with the completion of the first WAAMpeller prototype. With valuable experience gained, production of the second version, with the aim of achieving class certification, started immediately. “We learned a lot from producing the prototype,” says Vincent Wegener, Managing Director RAMLAB. “Mainly relating to hardware/software interaction because, when laying down 298 layers of Nickel Aluminium Bronze alloy, it is important to have a tight control on all process parameters.” “Production of the second WAAMpeller was greatly improved because we had learned to manage these process parameters.”
“Of course, we were all a bit nervous beforehand – after all, innovation always comes with a certain amount of unknowns – but the testing was a success,” says Kees Custers, Damen Project Engineer R&D enthusiastically. “We were pleased to report that the WAAMpeller displays the same behaviour as a conventional casted propeller in all of the tests. This includes the same level of performance in the crash stop scenario, which – going from full throttle ahead to full throttle reverse – is the heaviest loading that a propeller can experience. “From day one, this project has been characterised by a good working atmosphere and team dynamics, so there were quite a few high-fives on board when we had successfully completed the tests!”
More information here.