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Using Fluid Analysis Capabilities to Improve Marine Propeller Efficiency and Stay Ahead of International Competition

Picture 1: Mr. Nobuhiro Hasuike (Dr. Eng.) on right, Deputy General Manager
Mr. Akinori Okazaki on left, Deputy Manager
Propeller and Pod Propulsion Performance Section, Propeller Design Dept., Engineering Division

[Vol. 1] A recent trend in the marine industry is that manufacturers are striving to quickly develop eco-friendly devices. Nakashima Propeller manufactures marine propellers for domestic and international shipbuilders. They are also actively involved in developing and manufacturing energy saving propellers and appendages. Software Cradle’s SC/Tetra has been an indispensable tool for their development.

The Whole Industry Aims to Reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG) 

Nakashima Propeller, a manufacturer of marine propellers, celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2016. They are one of the dominant firms in the industry, holding 80% of the domestic Japanese market share and 30% of the overseas market. Their products are used by shipbuilders across the globe, including Japan, China and Korea.

Picture 2: Propeller for chemical tanker
Unique stripe patterns on Nakashima Propeller products, the Nakashima-Patterns, are known as their signatures

Picture 3: Nakashima Propeller received Prime Minister’s Award of Sixth Monozukuri Japan Grand Prix for their technology used in production of CFRP propeller

“Three types of technical capabilities are needed to develop marine propellers: these are, fluid analysis, casting, and machining,” explains Mr. Nobuhiro Hasuike from Nakashima Propeller, Deputy General Manager, Propeller and Pod Propulsion Performance Section, Propeller Design Dept., Engineering Division (Picture 1, on the right). Propellers are manufactured through build-to-order production. Each product is designed to perform best when implemented in the assigned ship. At the end of the manufacturing production process, propeller blade surfaces are neatly polished by experts, who are capable of detecting errors down to one hundredth of a millimeter. Being highly recognized for their skills and technologies, Nakashima Propeller received the Prime Minister’s Award of First Monozukuri Japan Grand Prix. They were also one of the first companies in the industry to successfully manufacture carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) propellers. They received another Prime Minister’s Award of Sixth Monozukuri Japan Grand Prix for their CFRP propellers (Picture 3).

The entire marine industry has the goal of satisfying the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), the guidelines by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the purpose of GHG reduction. Regulations will be gradually reinforced, and ships will have to satisfy the requirements to continue sailing. “We are intending to contribute to GHG reduction through developing energy efficient propellers that help improve the performance of the entire ship,” says Mr. Akinori Okazaki of Nakashima Propeller, Deputy Manager, Propeller and Pod Propulsion Performance Section, Propeller Design Dept., Engineering Division (Picture 1, on the left).

Cavitation Control is Essential

Cavitation control is the most important factor to consider when designing propellers. Cavitation occurs when air bubbles are generated by boiled water due to a drastic drop in the water pressure. The air bubbles instantly liquefy, and a giga-pascal-order collapse in pressure occurs. This causes erosion on the propeller surfaces. Cavitation also causes ship vibrations. Preventing cavitation and cavitation-induced erosion is a top priority to maintain ship safety and propulsion capability.

Predicting cavitation during the design phase used to be difficult. Mr. Hasuike recalls the time when they calculated the potential for cavitation: “We could only determine whether the amount of cavitation on the blade faces would be either small or substantial. An accurate calculation tool is indispensable for detailed design. With a highly reliable tool, we can confidently move on to advanced design.” Using a computational fluid analysis tool was essential for Nakashima Propeller engineers to pursue more advanced designs, which involved accurately identifying cavitation and erosion risks.

Having compared several fluid analysis tools, Mr. Hasuike and his team decided to use SC/Tetra. According to Mr. Hasuike, the reason for the decision was “the fact that it was developed by a reliable Japanese company.” Software Cradle’s thorough support also encouraged their decision. “When we consulted them about our problems, they offered to develop a new function we really needed. Their engineers are extremely helpful and quick to respond. The advice they give and their support are really spot-on,” says Mr. Hasuike. He feels that this level of support is rarely provided by vendors outside Japan and general software vendors. Having introduced SC/Tetra in 2005, Nakashima Propeller has been applying the tool in their product development.
*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of January 31, 2016 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors in this brochure.

Company Details


Founded 1926
Established 2008
Businesses Development, manufacturing and sales of marine equipment, environmental improvement devices, and exterior products
Head Office Jotokitagata, Okayama Higashi-ku, Okayama, Japan
Representative Motoyoshi Nakashima, President



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