Industry News

Propeller project generates forward motion Featured

As title sponsor of the WNT F2 powerboat team, WNT (UK) has been applying its cutting tool knowledge and machines at its technical centres in the UK and Germany to create replacement, lightweight components that help reduce mass and increase speed. As the team prepares for the 2017 season, thoughts turned to propulsive power and a redesign of the boat’s propeller. A combination of design, five-axis machining and the latest in cutting tool technology has produced a super-cavitating propeller to improve acceleration and top speed.

The first machining operation was rough turning, which reduced the original billet of tool steel from 73 to 30 kg. With the bulk of the weight removed, the part was transferred to a three-axis machining centre for further operations. To aid cutter access, the part was clamped using WNT’s new magnetic plate along with its PNG zero point system. The external rough-machining was completed using WNT’s HFC insert milling cutters with HCN5235 grade inserts, while for the initial internal work, a WNT C900 4xD Highfeed indexable insert drill and WTX Feed solid carbide drills were used, with the main bore profile finished
with WNT’s SpinTool digital stick system. 

With the external features roughed out and the bores complete, the propeller was transferred to a five-axis machining centre for finishing the external form. 

“This was a very challenging job due to the extreme complexity of the blade form reducing tool clearance, but the WNT tools proved to be a good solution all round, even where we had to compromise due to clearances and use tools ideally suited to aluminium rather than tool steel,” says Andy Kuklinski, technical business development manager at WNT Kempten.

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