Metal Additive Manufacturing enables ‘world’s first’ hollow propeller blade

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Metal Additive Manufacturing enables 'world's first' hollow propeller blade

The hollow propeller blade, produced using WAAM by Naval Group and Centrale Nantes (Courtesy Naval Group)


Naval Group, Paris, France, and Centrale Nantes, Nantes, France, have collaborated on the metal Additive Manufacturing of the first demonstrator model of hollow propeller blades as part of European H2020 project on the Realization and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships (RAMSSES1). Funded by the European Commission, this collaborative programme 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, the partners are using Additive Manufacturing to design large parts including propellers of six metres in diameter, which could not be produced using traditional manufacturing technologies.

The Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process allows for the AM of large parts and the production of propellers with more complex geometry. The one-third scale hollow blade demonstrator, representative of a container ship propeller, was additively manufactured in stainless steel in less than one hundred hours, and is said to weigh about 300 kg. The team stated that weight gains of over 40% will be achievable by this method compared to conventional processes.

Sirehna, a Centrale Nantes spin-off and subsidiary of Naval Group, is piloting the blade design in order to improve propeller energy efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. Sirehna’s work has reportedly led to an overall optimisation of blades in terms of efficiency and endurance, but also a significant reduction in radiated noise and vibrations. Reducing the environmental footprint linked to propulsion, as demonstrated in the H2020 RAMSSES project case study, is a challenge for all types of vessels, and particularly for large container ships.

Naval Group’s Patrice Vinot, Propeller Package Manager for the RAMSSES project, commented on the challenges of Additive Manufacturing for such an application. “Although Additive Manufacturing is increasingly present in industry, the programming and design of complex parts, such as propeller blades for ships, represents a considerable challenge for our teams and our partners,” he stated.

“The potential of the process revealed by this new case study means that we now anticipate unparalleled performance for the propellers of tomorrow. Taking part in projects such as RAMSSES and coordinating our network of academic and industrial partners will allow us to bring 3D printing into shipyards for the long term.”

Professor Jean-Yves Hascoët, head of the Rapid Manufacturing Platform at Centrale Nantes and international expert in Additive Manufacturing, added, “Additive Manufacturing has been developed over the last thirty-five years on the Rapid Manufacturing Platform. All these years of research come to fruition through a project like RAMSSES, which represents a real transfer of our technologies into an industrial environment.”

RAMSSES is a forty-eight month collaborative programme incorporating twenty-one work packages and thirty-seven partners from twelve countries, including key shipyards (Damen, Meyer Werft, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Naval Group and more) and European maritime research laboratories (such as TNO in The Netherlands and the Research Institute of Sweden). 

February 13, 2019

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Download PDF

Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • The GRCop story: The development, production and Additive Manufacturing of NASA’s rocket engine alloys
  • Formnext 2023: Innovations in metal Additive Manufacturing from the industry’s leading international exhibition
  • Cybersecurity in Additive Manufacturing: Securing the industry’s future
  • Additive Manufacturing in the jewellery industry: exploring the potential of platinum and titanium
  • Mission possible: The five-year plan to gain FAA and EASA acceptance of in-process monitoring

The world of metal AM to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of Metal AM magazine, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our twice weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Discover our magazine archive…

The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.

Browse the archive

Looking for AM machines, metal powders or part manufacturing services?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our comprehensive advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of Metal AM magazine.

  • AM machines
  • Process monitoring & calibration
  • Heat treatment & sintering
  • HIP systems & services
  • Pre- & post-processing technology
  • Powders, powder production and analysis
  • Part manufacturers
  • Consulting, training & market data
View online
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap