3D Printing

Dutch RAMLAB and Autodesk showcase first 3D printed ship component

The Port of Rotterdam’s RAMLAB has revealed its first pilot component produced using their hybrid additive manufacturing technique.

Rotterdam’s Additive Manufacturing Fieldlab (RAMLAB) was set up late last year and has now produced a ship propeller. Using its Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process combined with subtractive machining, the laboratory hopes to provide rapid repair for large ships at its base in the Port of Rotterdam.

Largest port in Europe

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest shipping port in Europe and through this project RAMLAB will hope to also make it the most efficient. The RAMLAB attempts to reduce waiting times in the maritime industry where parts can take weeks or months to be delivered. In theory, a vessel can have a specific part 3D printed while it is docked in the port rather than having the component shipped from elsewhere. Not only will this reduce lead times, saving both time and money, the process also mitigates the need to stockpile large numbers of components in warehouses.

The propeller created by RAMLAB. Photo via Autodesk.
The propeller created by RAMLAB. Photo via Autodesk.

3D printed propeller

The first successful component produced by RAMLAB will be showcased this week by Autodesk during the Hannover Messe conference. Autodesk is RAMLAB’s main software partner and has supported their incorporation of both additive and subtractive processes which uses 6-axis robotic arms.

The propeller on show at Autodesk's exhibit at Hannover Messe. Photo via Autodesk.
The propeller on show at Autodesk’s exhibit at Hannover Messe. Photo via Autodesk.

Propelling forward

The next steps for the project will be to produce and fit the propeller to scale in the summer of 2017. Vincent Wegener, Managing Director of the RAMLAB explains the projects goals,

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.


Elsewhere in the world of metal 3D printing, Desktop Metal has finally revealed details of their first 3D printer although perhaps not at the same scale of RAMLAB’s offerings.

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Featured image shows the WAAM process. Photo via RAMLAB.