First full-scale propeller blade demonstrator

propeller blade demonstrator The geometrically complex propeller blade weighs over 300kg. Credit: Naval Group and Centrale Nantes

Naval Group and Centrale Nantes have printed the first full-scale propeller blade demonstrator for military applications using additive manufacturing.

The large geometrically complex propeller blade weighs over 300kg and it is expected that mastering the production process for large parts will pave the way for the manufacture of more geometrically complex propellers.

Vincent Geiger, director of Naval Group’s Naval Research Technology Research Center, commented: "Printing this demonstrator is a major step towards the manufacture of innovative propellers by additive manufacturing. These initial results mean that it’s possible to envisage the short-term commissioning of differentiated propellers for the ships that will use them."

Centrale Nantes said that with additive manufacturing it is possible to design parts that could not be made previously with standard production technologies. This disruptive technology deposits (adds) material as opposed to subtracting it by machining.

It added that by lifting the limits imposed by traditional processes, these technologies pave the way for innovative parts design and assembly, and thus for the production of propellers providing greater efficiency for ships at sea: performance (autonomy and propulsion), stealth and lightening.

Professor Jean-Yves Hascoët, who heads up the Rapid Manufacturing Platform at Centrale Nantes, in the GeM laboratory, explained that: “additive manufacturing is a process that offers unlimited possibilities: less material used, integration of additional features and geometrically-complex parts assembly. It allows for new designs, weight savings, lower manufacturing costs.”

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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