Naval Group and Centrale Nantes have printed the first demonstrator of hollow propeller blades by metal additive manufacturing as part of the European H2020 project, RAMSSES1. Funded by the European Commission, this collaborative program aims to reduce the environmental impact of ships. Centrale Nantes and Naval Group are taking the lead within this project on the production of innovative propeller demonstrators to improve the operational capabilities of ships.
In order to improve vessel propulsion, Centrale Nantes and Naval Group are using additive manufacturing to design large parts (propellers of 6 metres in diameter), which could not be produced thus far using traditional manufacturing technologies. Implementing the Wire Arc for Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process allows for the printing of large parts and paves the way for the production of propellers with more complex geometry.
The hollow blade demonstrator, representative of a container ship propeller, was printed in stainless steel in less than one hundred hours, weighing in at about 300 kg. The teams’ sheer technical prowess means that weight gains of over 40% will be achievable compared to conventional processes.