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Overcoming the Propeller Supply Bottleneck

Hydrocomp’s ProCad facilitates in-house Process Control of Propeller Design and Manufacture.

By Don MacPherson and Adam Kaplan aritime Tactical Systems Inc. (MARTAC) is a tion company. The propellers were completed and shipped

Florida-based company building next-generation three days later, for testing that weekend. A slight revision

M unmanned vessels for military applications. In was requested for updates to the drive line connections, and preparation for the “Rim of the Paci? c” (RIMPAC) military a second design iteration was completed and sent out for exercises in Pearl Harbor this last July, MARTAC needed a machining four days later. The ? nal propellers arrived 19 new propeller design for their MANTAS series high-speed days from the start of discussions between HydroComp and vessels. Unfortunately, their current supplier was not meet- MARTAC, with plenty of time to spare before RIMPAC.

ing delivery schedules for the high-quality surface-piercing How was MARTAC able to overcome the propeller supply propellers that they need, so MARTAC made the deci- bottleneck and meet such an impossibly tight timetable? By sion to design and build propellers themselves. As part of leveraging the facility of the HydroComp PropCad software this new in-house process control for propeller design and to own the design-to-manufacture process with the added manufacture, MARTAC teamed with HydroComp for ac- value of the propeller design expertise of HydroComp staff.

quisition of the PropCad propeller design software, as well as design services for an initial prototype. HYDROCOMP PROPCAD SOFTWARE HydroComp PropCad is industry-standard software for

ADOPTING IN-HOUSE MANAGEMENT OF PROPELLER DESIGN developing marine propeller designs, 3D models, 2D draw-

AND MANUFACTURE ings, and various inspection reports. Used by over 160 pro-

For many companies, propeller supply can be a major fessionals in more than 40 countries, PropCad has made project bottleneck, as lead times can be long and delivered possible the in-house management of propeller design and propellers sometimes needing additional rework to meet manufacture – whether that be by a propeller builder with

QA requirements. Further, large propellers require foundry their own foundry or a company like MARTAC using an and machining equipment that make own-control of man- outsourced production company.

ufacture unrealistic. MARTAC’s MANTAS vehicles are Standard CAD tools are poorly suited to develop the small (less than 3 meters length), so the scale of the propel- special non-orthographic shapes of propellers that are ori- lers made it feasible to manage the manufacture in-house. ented along a helical surface. Prismatic shapes and planar

A multiple product series of propellers was to be re- sketches are simply inadequate, as well as frustrating and quired by MARTAC, so they decided to conduct the de- costly. PropCad is a dedicated propeller design environ- sign in-house and adopted the PropCad software for the ment that makes developing the blade sets fast, easy, and geometric modeling of the designs. A parent design pro- cost-effective. It is a parametric tool that develops the vided by HydroComp would be used as a design “tem- propeller surfaces from the design objectives you specify plate” for later variants developed within PropCad. With – there is no manual manipulation of the CAD surfaces re- less than 30 days to RIMPAC, the deadline for creating an quired. This means that users do not need extensive CAD initial design, manufacturing the necessary sets of propel- experience to quickly develop accurate and well-behaved lers, testing their performance, and selecting a ? nal design propeller CAD models with its integrated parametric for RIMPAC was extremely tight. modeling. PropCad’s various export options insure that us- ers can develop virtually any 3D “design-for-manufacture”

WHEN RAPID REALLY MEANS RAPID propeller geometries that are required.

Within six days from the start of discussions with Hy- droComp, MARTAC acquired PropCad, received the de- MANUFACTURING AND INSPECTION SUPPORT sign geometry for the prototype propeller, and sent the 3D PropCad is not only used for design geometry, but can

CAD ? les to be manufactured by a national 3-axis produc- be used to compensate a design for different manufacturing

October 2016 46 MN

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