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Dutch shipyard unveils classed, 3D-printed propeller

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A new 3D-printed ship propeller has passed rigorous testing and is now class approved, Netherlands-based Damen Shipyard Group has announced.

The WAAMpeller, a triple-blade propeller, is the result of a collaborative effort begun seven months ago, the company said. The propeller was designed by Promarin and made by the Port of Rotterdam’s RAMLAB (Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB) using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) techniques. Autodesk provided support in software, robotics and additive manufacturing. Damen provided research and development and the Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore Netherlands verified the production and testing process.

The consortium completed the prototype in August, and production of the WAAMpeller started immediately, with the aim of achieving class certification.

“We had learned a lot from producing the prototype,” said Vincent Wegener, RAMLAB managing director. “When laying down 298 layers of nickel aluminium bronze alloy, it is important to have a tight control on all process parameters.”

The WAAMpeller was installed on a Damen Stan Tug 1606 for testing. “This particular vessel is of extra interest in that it is equipped with a Tier III compliant engine, making it future-proof for the ever stricter environmental rules and regulations in harbors around the world,” said Martin de Bruijn, Damen’s managing director of workboats.

Kees Custers, Damen R&D project engineer, said the 3D-printed performed like a  conventional-casted propeller in all 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.”

Considering the implications of the project on the maritime industry, Allard Castelein, CEO of Port of Rotterdam, said, “This project has shown the shipbuilding industry the potential of 3D printing techniques for the production of vessel components.”

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