Historically, it has been expensive for model test basins to supply custom model-scale propellers for ship propulsion experiments, due to the high cost of traditional propeller fabrication methods. This paper presents a new method of manufacturing model propellers in a cost effective and time efficient manner.
A new computer aided design tool has been developed to quickly develop propeller geometry, which can then be built using additive manufacturing processes. These processes reduce the cost of manufacturing propellers by an order of magnitude compared to machined metal propellers.
The results of a study comparing propeller open water and self-propulsion experiments using traditional metal propellers to newly developed plastic propellers are presented. This study also includes an evaluation of the effect of surface roughness on the open water performance coefficients. The measured propulsive performance coefficients of the plastic propellers were within 2% of that of geometrically similar metal propellers with the same blade roughness.