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Dutch consortium build and install 3D-printed tug propeller

THis is one of the world’s first 3D printed propellers. It has been approved by the class spciety Bureau Veritas and it has been installed on a Dutch tug.

It is called the WAAMPropeller- the WAAM part standing for wire arc additive manufacturing and is the result of collaboration between Damen, RAMLAB (this is the Port of Rotterdam’s additive manufacturing lab), the design company Promarin, the software business Autodesk and the class society.

The project to build the propeller started only seven months ago according to the consortium, with Damen providing resources including a Stan Tug 1606 vessel for testing.

A prototype propeller was first made in August and then a second to seek class approval from BV who oversaw the whole process form a class perspective.

“Production of the second WAAMpeller was greatly improved because we had learned a lot from producing the prototype,” said Vincent Wegener, Managing Director RAMLAB in a press announcement.

“This mainly concerned the 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.”

Damen’s testing engineers performed operational testing of the WAAMpeller on 20 November on the tug with BV oversight.

3D printing, o additive manufacturing has caught the imagination of the maritime industry where spare part logistics are a significant part of operational costs.

There are a number of businesses now looking to commercialise the technology, either through creation of just in time spare parts delivery, or even onboard class approved small part manufacturing.

Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam is quoted in the consortium announcement about the success of this propeller saying: “This project has shown the shipbuilding industry the potential of 3D printing techniques for the production of vessel components. We continue our intensive research into this very exciting area.”


About Author

Craig Eason Stockholm
Craig Eason is the owner and editorial director of Fathom.World. He has a background in the shipping industry having started his career as a cadet on oil tankers and gas carriers before becoming a navigating officer on a range of vessel types. A change in career, with ensuing university studies, and he has now gained 20 years experience in written and broadcast journalism. He now is in demand as a knowledgeable and competent editor and event host and moderator, both for in-house events and ones for the public.