Naval Group prints first propeller for powering French warship

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PARIS — France’s Andromède mine-hunting ship is now being propelled by a 3D-printed propeller designed and manufactured by Naval Group, the corporate introduced on Wednesday.

Emmanuel Chol, director of Naval Group’s Nantes-Indret website the place the propeller was made, mentioned, “It is the largest metal 3D-printed thruster ever to have been manufactured and the first propeller resulting from this technology, embarked on board a military ship and manufactured for use beyond just sea trials.”

Weighing 1 metric ton, the propeller is made of 5 200 kg (441 kilos) blades which have been manufactured utilizing a wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) process, much less well-known than different metallic 3D printing strategies however higher fitted to large-scale functions. It works by melting metallic wire heated by an electrical arc. The course of is managed by a robotic arm.

The French subsidiary of the Japanese group Yaskawa supplied the robots and manufacturing instruments for this undertaking.

Naval Group labored with Bureau Veritas to ensure that the testing, inspection and certification necessities (like corrosion, fatigue, shock resistance) have been met in order that the Fleet Support Services group and the DGA French procurement company might authorize the trial of the blades on a army ship.

The propeller was transferred from the manufacturing website to Brest in October 2020 the place it was mounted on the propeller shaft of the Andromède. The ship is one in all France’s 10 Tripartite mine hunters constructed within the 1980s, eight of which – together with the Andromède – won’t be retired for one more decade.

Sea trials in December have been profitable, so now the mine-hunter can return to regular operations, outfitted with its printed propeller.

Eric Balufin, director of Naval Group’s website in Brest says “the assembly of this 3D-printed propeller shows great promise for the future. This new technology will enable us to considerably reduce technical constraints, and therefore allow for new manufacturing solutions for complex geometrical shapes which cannot be produced through conventional processes.”

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