Damen Shipyards Group has taken the lead in adopting the application of 3D printing within the Marine industry. Together with their partners RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas, the world’s first class approved 3D printed ship propeller has been unveiled.

The project was initiated by one Damen’s in-house student research programmes focusing on the potential of 3D printing which led to the formation of the 5 companies. “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.” explains Kees Custers, Project Engineer in Damen’s Research & Development department.

The WAAMpeller

The propeller was fabricated using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing techniques, hence the name WAAMpeller. In August 2017, the first prototype was completed, consisting of 298 layers of Nickel Aluminium Bronze alloy. This provided valuable experience for improving the second WAAMpeller production with the aim of achieving class certification.

On 20th November, the WAAMpeller was then put through a series of rigorous testing processes consisting of operational functions, speed trials, board pull and crash testing. Representatives from each of the companies were present, including supervision from Bureau Veritas surveyors. Martijn Nieuwenhuijs, Chief Executive of Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore Netherlands comments: “Bureaus Veritas has witnessed every step of the making and testing of the WAAMpeller. Some challenges needed to be tackled along the way, but the final product is technically sound and ready for commercial application.” “We are pleased to report that the WAAMpeller displayed the same behaviour as a conventional casted propeller in all of the 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,” says Kees Custers, Damen Project Engineer R&D enthusiastically.

Future Steps

This project serves as an exemplification of the exciting opportunities 3D printing brings to the marine sector. The WAAMpeller will be the first of many class certified vessel components fabricated by 3D printing.  Contact us today to join the 3D printing revolution.

For more information about the WAAMpeller, please visit directly the Damen Blog.