A prototype of the world’s first 3D printed ship propeller has been developed by a consortium that includes Damen Shipyards Group, RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas.
The 1,350mm diameter propeller, named 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,” says 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.”
Because of this critical difference, one of the first steps was to carry out extensive testing of the material properties of the printed material to ensure compliance to Bureau Veritas standards. “This involved printing two straightforward walls of material – then using a milling machine to produce samples for lab testing of tensile and static strengths.”
It can also be said that the 400kg WAAMpeller sets a milestone in terms of 3D printing production techniques. “The challenge has been to translate a 3D CAD file on a computer into a physical product. This is made more complex because this propeller is a double-curved, geometric shape with some tricky overhanging sections,” explains Mr Custers.
Yannick Eberhard from Promarin’s R&D department adds that “the transformation from a semi-automatic to robotic processing is the solid foundation for even more complex and reliable future propeller designs“.
“Material characterization and mechanical testing have been an important part of this project,” says Wei Ya, Postdoctoral Researcher from the University of Twente at RAMLAB. “We have to make sure that the material properties meet the needs of the application. Material toughness, for example – ensuring that the propeller is able to absorb significant impact without damage.”
“But we have also been working towards optimising the production strategy for 3D metal deposition. This includes bead shape and width, as well as how fast we can deposit the printed material.”
Highlighting RAMLAB’s capacity to print objects with maximum dimensions of 7x2x2 metres, Mr Ya says: “For large scale 3D metal deposition, the WAAMpeller is really ground-breaking for the maritime industry.”“This technology is a fundamental change in the concept of how we make things. With additive manufacturing, you can print most metallic components that are needed in principle. There is so much potential for the future – these techniques will have a big impact on the supply chain.”
French software company Dassault Systèmes is discussing plans to build a 3-D virtual shipyard in South Australia. Dassault Systèmes, which is currently in South Australias capital Adelaide, provides software systems to support 3D design and modelling, simulation, information and intelligence
US Army Research Laboratory has flight tested 3D-printed unmanned aircraft that was developed with a new on-demand system. In a successful test, the Prospects of US soldiers manufacturing drones with 3D printers in a remote combat zone has been demonstrated, the US Army announced in a press release on Thursday
Orbital ATK has successfully tested a 3D-printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA Langley Research Center. The combustor, produced through an additive manufacturing process known as powder bed fusion (PBF), was subjected to a variety of high-temperature hypersonic flight conditions over the course of 20 days, including one of the longest duration propulsion wind tunnel tests ever recorded for a unit of this kind
A 3D radar system, capable of detecting tennis ball sized objects, travelling at Mach 3 speeds more than 25Km away, has been installed in the Royal Navys future aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Known as Artisan 3D the radar system will be used for the first time to deliver air traffic management, providing the aircraft carriers with unparalleled awareness and control of the skies around them
A study, published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, said that 3-D printing aircraft's metal parts could reduce weight and fuel consumption. Published by researchers at the Northwestern University in US, the study concluded that 3-D printing the lighter and higher performance parts could drastically reduce both manufacturing waste and the weight of the airplane, thus saving fuel and money and decreasing carbon emissions
Turbomeca (Safran) is setting up new manufacturing capability at its facility in France for serial production of parts using the latest additive manufacturing, or 3D printing process. Bordes facility in France is one of the first of its kind to serial produce additive components for aerospace propulsion industry in France
South Koreas defense ministry announced Wednesday its plans to invest in big data and 3D printing technologies as part of the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative to help strengthen military logistics security
Boeing and Oerlikon, a technology and engineering group, signed a five-year collaboration agreement to develop standard materials and processes for metal-based additive manufacturing in aerospace applications. Additive manufacturing, popularly known as 3D printing, is a controlled process in which material is joined or solidified to create a three-dimensional part
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