A French Defense contractor company named Naval Group, manufactured a one tonne propeller using 3D printing technology. The process behind this is based on metal wire fusion. Sporting a 2.5-meter span and five individual 200kg blades, the propeller is reportedly the largest thruster. The propeller was mounted onto the intermediate shaft of the Andromede, a Tripartite-class minehunter, a month later. Many sea trials are done in the month of December.
All the military ships operate under harsh conditions which is related to corrosion, fatigue and shock resistance. Similarly their production must be held to equally harsh quality requirements. Emmanuel Chol, Director of the Nantas-Indret site stated that “Obtaining military naval quality requires rigorous development. Nearly three years of R&D – carried out by the Technical and Innovation Department in cooperation with the Ecole Centrale de Nantes within the framework of the LabCom Joint Laboratory of Maritime Technology – went into the development of the deposition process of metal wire fusion.”
One of the major accomplishment of the Naval Group is the manufacturing of propeller using 3D printing. After successful completion of this project they are focusing on redesigning maritime components with the help of 3D printing. This helps in reducing lead times and increases thrust efficiencies. DED based technologies like metal wire fusion are very easy to repair further reducing costs and downtime. Eric Balufin, Director of the Naval Group site of Brest where the blades were mounted, concludes, “The assembly of this 3D printed propeller shows great promise for the future. Using this technology we can reduce technical constraints and therefore allowing new manufacturing solutions. This enables us to reduce production time.”
Indian Navy has partnered with 3D printing service provider company think3D to fabricate spare parts for both on and off-shore components. Its main aim is to overcome the problem of spare part availability. Finally 3D printing has excellent potential in the marine sector both technologically and logistically.