First 3D-printed ship’s propeller in Guinness Book of Records

News - 11 April 2019 - Webredactie 3ME

The first 3D-prtined ship’s propeller, the WAAMpeller, which was co-produced by dr. ir. Constantinos Goulas, researcher at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been given a place in the 2019 Guinness Book of Records. Goulas is an expert in the area of large-scale 3D printing of steel, and for his research he is working at the Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB (RAMLAB). In collaboration with RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk, Bureau Veritas and Damen, he participated in the project of producing a ship’s propeller with Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technology, a 3D printing process with welding wire. The prototype of the propeller has a diameter of 1,350 mm and weighs around 400 kilograms.


A major challenge in the project was to prove that the material properties WAAMpeller are comparable to casting. The ship’s propeller is made from Nickel Aluminium Bronze alloy (NAB). Because the WAAMpeller is constructed layer by layer and not in one step, the microstructure becomes finer and the mechanical properties become superior in comparison to casting. The second prototype was produced and certified by Bureau Veritas, installed on a tug boat and passed all the stringent tests. Research is being done in incorporating multiple metals in a single propeller. This will bring the technology a step further, as the performance of propeller can increase with the use of stronger metals in combination with more corrosion resistant metals.

[Translate to English:] WAAMpeller; the world's first 3D printed ship propeller:

Constantinos Goulas:

‘My research focuses on functionally graded properties by 3D metal printing. This means printing with different metals in order to have the desired properties at specific locations in a component. For the WAAMpeller I investigated the material properties to enable certification of this propeller. The propeller comprises 298 layers of Nickel Aluminium Bronze alloy, and is designed for use in tugboat propulsion. It was great to be part of the team designing this fascinating propeller.’

Constantinos Goulas conducts his research in the context of the NWO Perspective Programme entitled ‘Additive Manufacturing for Extra Large Metal Components (AiM2XL)’, coordinated by professor Ian Richardson. Read more here.