World’s first ‘Class approved’ 3D printed, ship propeller

World’s first ‘Class approved’ 3D printed, ship propeller

24 apr 2018

By: Vincent van der Mee - Lincoln Electric Europe B.V./Lincoln Smitweld B.V.

The project, 'WAAMpeller' (Wire Arc Additive Manufactured propeller) began at RAMLab (Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing Laboratory). The goal of the project was to manufacture a working, 3-blade propeller of 1.35m in diameter using wire arc additive manufacturing technology. The propeller was built, layer by layer, using wire arc additive manufacturing controlled by robotics in conjunction with a 3-dimensional computer-aided design (3D CAD). This technology proved to reduce enormous time and cost in relation to procuring the same propeller through the traditional casting process.

3d printed ship propeller

Some moments during manufacturing and installing the propeller

As one of the official sponsors of RAMLab, LEE provided the consumable for the WAAMpeller and advised RAMLab on weld metal chemistry and mechanical properties of the Ni-Al bronze alloy consumable. RAMLab successfully produced the propeller and it was tested real time in a vessel. The entire development, production and testing of the WAAMpeller was verified and the propeller was Class certified by Bureau Veritas.

The WAAMpeller project is special for many reasons. Not only it has produced the world's first class approved 3D printed ship's propeller, but this has been accomplished within a very impressive seven-month timeframe and only one year after the official opening of RAMLab.

As one of the sponsors of RAMLab, LEE welcomes the opportunity to share its' expertise and collaborate on solutions for challenging applications as Lincoln Electric continues to expand its portfolio of additive manufacturing alloys. For further details on this project, please contact the Development Engineering department of Lincoln Electric Europe (LEE), Nijmegen.

A short video on WAAAMpeller is available here: