RAMLAB has manufactured the world’s very first 3D-printed ship’s propeller, which successfully passes all requisite quality tests. Having completed the prototype, the lab will continue with the development of a second propeller that will actually be installed on a tugboat in the near future.
The propeller, which weighs 400 kilograms and has a 1.30-metre diameter, forms a milestone in on-going efforts to master this relatively young technology. “A metal printer adds the material layer by layer, which means that the end result’s characteristics differ from those of a conventionally cast ship’s propeller,” says Kees Custers, who works as a project engineer at Damen’s R&D department. “The propeller was printed with a nickel, aluminium and bronze alloy.”
The Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB (RAMLAB) is the first 3D printing field lab that specifically caters to the port-related sector. In the future, RAMLAB aims to be able to produce replacement parts in a matter of days with the aid of 3D metal printers (in a process also known as additive manufacturing). At present, a replacement part often takes months to fabricate. RAMLABG, which is located at RDM Rotterdam, is an initiative of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, InnovationQuarter and RDM Makerspace.