Paid help: CNC 5" Propeller on HAAS Mill

I need to make some of the attached propellers. I have taken the HAAS class but never finished the needed test projects, I am wondering what someone would charge to machine a propeller for me?

I’d probably need about 5 of them. Let me know if interested. I can supply materials and/or help - but in all honesty, my help won’t be very useful so assume I’m just paying you to make them lol.

3D Model:


I can’t see what it looks like. Is this something that can be made on a 3-axis machine? Perhaps you could post a screen shot so someone with HAAS experience can weigh in.

Sure, here are some screen shots. I do not know if it can be made on a 3-axis machine.



Is this a cosmetic piece or rather a functional piece that needs to be made of aluminum or steel?

If cosmetic, it’s far easier to 3D print it and then paint it. @maxk68 could probably be quite helpful to you. DT

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It’s a functional piece for a small unmanned hydrographic survey boat I’m developing. I had some prop adapters machined for the motor and used some R/C airplane propellers, that actually works pretty well; but it just doesn’t feel professional enough, though with a nicer spinner it might work…

Anyway, I have a polyprinter and have printed some test units of these props… and am having some made from nylon on 3D hubs with one of the MJF HP printers. The Polyprinter made props are not professional looking enough; maybe the MJF Nylon units will be adequate, we shall see. However, I think for and end-use item, aluminum would be the preferred way to go.

These are highly complex parts with overhangs and front and back operations to Mill. Your cost on prototyping for something like this will be high. Strongly suggest 3D printing and casting it out of aluminum. While we don’t have a foundry in house, you can get castings done for $s per pound instead of hundreds of dollars per hour to mill.

Clean up the casting with a sander and files, then polish the blades to get best cavitation resistance.

If this goes to production, expect to spend time sourcing a manufacturer who will make these over seas in high batch counts. If your tolerance is wide enough, casting and sanding will probably still be the cheapest way to make these long run.

Cheapest/ Easiest way to make this work is to find a COTS product on alibaba you could make work for your application. For example: this propeller


Or better yet, build a foundry in your backyard and melt down scrap aluminum. The maker way. :slight_smile:

Ok, thanks for the input!

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Out of curiosity, why can’t you buy and then modify an existing propeller? I assure you doing so would put you much further ahead of schedule and save cost for completing you overall boat.

Quickly looking here is an example

Ofcourse the answer “I want to design and execute propeller because that is what I am here to do.” is an admirable answer that we can all relate to.

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Oh man, I could write a book on this adventure/business. But to make it shortish… this particular boat is too small for any full size boat propellers, even trolling motor props. But it’s too large for R/C boat style propellers - plus R/C boat props are designed for higher speeds, these things run at around 1-1.4m/s. It’s right in the no-mans land of props. Plus, finding solid propulsion has actually been a much bigger problem than one would have expected. We have a few boat sizes and I’ve tried a ton of stuff, the bigger USVs can handle a trolling motor; but it’s a lot of weight for a very low power motor, plus I’ve found that they somehow don’t last very long. When I use trolling motors on actual boats I never wear them out. But, on these USVs they burn out pretty quick; it might be the slightly higher voltage, or perhaps the fact that a motor will seemingly last forever when its used 3 hours per weekend. These boats accumulate alot of hours pretty fast… clients break trolling motors constantly. I’ve tried thrusters, such as the blue robotics T200s… they’re good, reliable, but are best in ideal conditions. Any weeds or plants… even a leaf… and it’s going to jam, plus they’re not very efficient. Even had a client suck a snake into a T200, which jamed it. haha. I’ve tried alot of random stuff and variations in between as well.

Also have some customers who operate these in ultra-high salinity environments; like 30%+ salinity. Cakes onto everything. That destroys most things, so I landed on having some custom 140kv and 200kv motors made, fully potted for use in corrosive environments. I installed the motors into some pods which I tig welded myself. The small pod works great with 5x5 R/C airplane props, the mid sized one does well with the 7x7 RC airplane props and the largest 9kw one can actually use a boat prop. The welded pods are nearly impossible to break. (Nearly impossible, not actually impossible: Somewhat overweight client fell out of the back of the truck and landed on the small boat (30 inch long) crushing the motor shaft assembly. Didn’t find out how that happened until someone else at the company slipped up and told me; they were trying to warranty it) Anyway, the airplane props have 50-60% efficiency improvement over the trolling motor props.

The motors, the airplane props, the product works great. However, I’m trying to move from a lower cost “get what you pay for” type market position to one of the better providers out there, goal is to be on par with Ocean Alpha or Oceanscience Teledyne but made here in the US…so the small details are starting to count. I need to make look and actually be a well engineered product; and the R/C airplane prop bolted on isn’t ideal. That said, I may stick with it and just focus on some MJF 3D printed or CNC’d housings to make it look nicer. If someone breaks an R/C airplane propeller, it’s $4. I can just include some extras and have happy customers, plus they actually work well.

Fun project: I built this manned/unmanned 15ft catamaran from a trashed McGregor Venture. Performs great with dual 140kv potted motors, 7x7 APC airplane props. Has R/C control (great for getting on/off the trailer), confusing people at the lake… it has an autopilot with bridged LAN and LTE connectivity, can cruise at 2 m/s for about 20 hours. Adding an Ouster lidar here soon as well. I’ve had more fun with this thing than nearly any boat I’ve previously owned. Just program a looping mission, open a beer, hop in a tube or relax on the deck and enjoy.


It could be made on a 3-axis machine if you can tolerate step functions in the propellor. (I saw this on Instructables but I haven’t looked yet to figure out how he did the “back” side …)


And you would need one big honking piece of metal (each) to hog it out.

Per the suggestions above, you might try Shapeways. They have several processes that yield metal parts.

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There’s a local company rep that I met at the Solidworks conference over a year ago who works at a local Hewlett Packard subsidiary that makes metal parts from 3D printers. If they couldn’t get it done for you, perhaps they know local (or nonlocal) folks who’ve bought their machines who could 3D print it for you?

this is the type of job that is best done on a 5 axis machine.
It can be done on the 3 axis but would involve multiple setups, heavy fixturing and damn good programming.


Is the angle of incidence of your blades 90 degrees apart ?

That would seem to lend itself to a a fixture that can rough one side and finish the other ( mostly ). Then swap and repeat. ( works better if you’re making more than one I think. )

Perhaps redesign the prop to make it more 3-axis friendly ? Less complex curves and maybe set up to do a finish process on a lathe to round the spinner ?

Good luck with it. Looks like a neat project.

Just my $0.02.

It will only let me download a .rar file, not the step file that I can work with.

I think 7zip should uncompress a .rar

Thank you it did unzip it

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Thanks for all the input.

I think for now, I’m going to wait and see if the printed props will be adequate. If not, I’ll look at over seas CNC or casting in quantity, or just use the airplane props but focus on a nice looking spinner and mounting hardware. (462.4 KB)

Ok, I have some simpler ones, some prop adapters. Anyone game?

Also, what is a good format to use for 3D models? I used IGES in the zip file above, but STEP is another option.

IGES is the grandpa of STEP. You decide.