The Surrey Silent Propeller R&D Project (1989/90)

The goals and objectives were to develop and manufacture prototype silent propellers as part of a research project, conducted by one of the research groups at Surrey University, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Surrey, UK.

My analytical / engineering challenge in this project was to work with the designers and create a 3D mathematical model for machining, that considered the tight tolerance requirements, for post-processing tool-path using a 2.5 axis Deckel CNC machine tool that was largely donated to my laboratory by Deckel (UK).

The method/ model was validated by designing/ implementing and testing prototype propellers first cutting the path into "toy plastic", then into various other materials including aluminum.

The practical, industrial use and spinoffs included the design and manufacture of several small silent submarine propellers and submarines that were built for environmental research purposes and used in arctic zones and elsewhere.

Major lessons learned include the fact that innovation often can overcome limiting issues, as in this case the lack of a full 5 -axes CNC mill.


The photograph below illustrates the first parts we have cut on our CNC mill. (The brilliant CNC operator was Mr. Montgomery).


The photograph below illustrates the way we have measured the prototype propeller part using a DEA CMM (Co-ordinate Measuring Machine).