Autodesk & RAMLAB: On-demand Spare Parts for the Marine Industry with Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing: Propeller Use Case (EN)
Kelvin Hamilton, Senior Technical Consultant, Research & Innovations, Autodesk
Wei Ya, Postdoctoral Researcher , RAMLAB
As additive manufacturing gains greater industrial exposure, there is a drive towards defining practical, high-value processes and products. Defining viable business cases is critical to ensure successful technology adoption. Given the marine industry’s slow uptake of AM, the potential of such as Directed Energy Deposition via wire and arc welding, to produce spare parts is promising. They have the potential to reduce storage and transportation costs of spare parts by bringing production closer to end use locations.
Using a ‘propeller’ as a familiar marine industry object for a case study, the authors explored four different design iterations with fabrication aimed at highlighting the opportunity and design freedom offered by AM for development time and cost reduction. With little activity on AM in the marine sector, the concept of spare parts on-demand presents a marked opportunity to change this. With the propeller case study, this concept was explored as a route to reduce stock piles of spare parts by producing components on a needs basis in close proximity to where they are needed.
By fabricating these four components with wire and arc additive, a considerable portion of the process chain was investigated from both hardware and software perspectives. Firstly, exploring the design of the components and investigating design features allowed by AM. Secondly, preparing these components for manufacture by creating appropriate preforms with the essential considerations. Thirdly, building these components considering the distortion and stress on macroscale, geometric fidelity and thermal management. Finally, post processing techniques were explored to give an indication on their capacity to bring these components to final form.
Current trend towards ‘producing locally’ along with the intersection of wire and arc AM, the flexibility offered by software and hardware coupled with high cost pressures of the marine industry make this spare part on-demand concept particularly attractive.