The Port of Rotterdam's Additive Manufacturing Fieldlab (RAMLAB) has successfully developed its first 3D-printed ship component in the form of a propeller, in collaboration with its software partner Autodesk.

The propeller was developed under a pilot project, and was produced using a hybrid manufacturing process combining wire and arc additive manufacturing. Industrial robotic arms and subtractive machining, as well as grinding techniques, were also used to develop the component.

Additive Manufacturing Fieldlab managing director Vincent Wegener said: “With the work being done at RAMLAB, the group hopes to accelerate the cross-industry adoption of hybrid manufacturing for making large-scale parts on-demand.

“Our aim is to make the Port of Rotterdam not just an important gateway for Europe, but also a leader in the development of new manufacturing methods.

“Autodesk is a key partner for us due to its expertise in how to design and manufacture using both the latest additive manufacturing techniques and more traditional CNC and machining methods.”

"Our aim is to make the Port of Rotterdam not just an important gateway for Europe, but also a leader in the development of new manufacturing methods."

Port of Rotterdam currently handles over 460 million tonnes of cargo a year, which means ensuring the port is able to run its operations smoothly is paramount.

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The newly developed 3D printed part is expected to help the port in meeting its requirements, such as providing a replacement part to a ship, in shorter durations.

RAMLAB is located within the campus of Port of Rotterdam and is equipped with a pair of 6-axis robotic arms, which are capable of additively manufacturing large metal industrial parts.

The RAMLAB and Autodesk collaboration aims to manufacture a final version of the ship propeller and install the component on one of the partner’s ships before the end of the year.

Image: A ship’s propeller created using 3D printing technique. Photo: courtesy of Autodesk Inc.