Damen Shipyards Group announced that entered a cooperative consortium with RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas, in order to develop the world’s first class approved 3D printed ship’s propeller, to be called the WAAMpeller.
The 1,300mm diameter propeller weighs approximately 180kg and will be based on a Promarin design that is typically found on a Damen Stan Tug 1606. Using Autodesk software in the construction process, Port of Rotterdam’s RAMLAB will fabricate the WAAMpeller from a bronze alloy, using the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process.
The first propeller is expected to be printed by summer 2017, with subsequent testing occurring in the autumn. Bureau Veritas will be involved in the certification of the completed product. After the printing of the propeller, Damen will also conduct full-scale trials.
“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”, explains Kees Custers, Project Engineer in Damen’s Research & Development department.
Damen’s involvement in the project began just over a year ago, when three students from Delft Technical University were investigating the potential of 3D printing and they brought the company into contact with the other members of the consortium.
“What is quite unique about this group of five companies is that, while we have joint interests, we also have individual aims. This leads to a very productive and cooperative atmosphere in what is a very exciting project”, commented Mr Custers.
The WAAMpeller project is aligned with the company’s commitment to Research & Development programmes, aiming to more efficient and 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” said Damen’s Principle Research Engineer Don Hoogendoorn.