The world’s first class approved 3D printed propeller, called the WAAMpeller, is to be developed and printed by summer 2017, says the Damen Shipyards Group. Having entered into a cooperative consortium with RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk, and Bureau Veritas, the partners plan to develop a propeller based on a Promarin design that is typically found on a Damen Stan Tug 1606 from a bronze alloy using the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process and using Autodesk software.
Once the 180 kg, 1,300mm diameter propeller is printed and been through full-scale trials conducted by Damen in autumn 2017, Bureau Veritas will be involved in the certification of the completed product. “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,” says Kees Custers, project engineer in Damen’s research & development department.
This marks the first time that a metal 3D printed maritime component will be approved by Class. “Our aim is to build more effective, more cost-efficient and more environmentally friendly vessels. The WAAMpeller project contributes to this goal because it not only marks an important advance in 3D printing, but it also has the potential to yield significant results in optimising future vessel designs. 3D printing technology brings with it an excellent opportunity to improve ship structures in terms of both performance and fuel consumption,” says Damen’s principle research engineer, Don Hoogendoorn.