Oil and gas

Reassuring the oil & gas and marine sectors over ‘printed’ parts

Additive Manufacturing

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Brice Le Gallo

Brice Le Gallo

Regional Manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL - Oil & Gas

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  • The oil & gas and marine industries can be large markets for additive manufacturing, says the CEO of Aurora Labs, maker of the world’s fastest industrial 3D printer of its kind

  • External certification is key to these sectors accepting 3D printing

  • DNV GL is working on processes to independently qualify or certify parts made by Aurora Labs’ machine



There is significant potential for additive manufacturing (Figure 1) to provide reliable and cheaper spare parts to the oil & gas and marine sectors, almost as soon as and where they are needed.

This vision is driving the ambitions of Aurora Labs, an Australian developer and maker of industrial 3D printing machines. Its equipment produces parts from digitally stored designs, by building up layers from powdered metals such as stainless steel, titanium, bronze and iron.

Contact us:

Brice Le Gallo

Brice Le Gallo

Regional Manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL - Oil & Gas

PERSPECTIVES: Digital publication from DNV GL - Oil & Gas

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Figure 1: Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing
[Additive manufacturing] can slash the cost of parts, and increase their availability, potentially avoiding lengthy and expensive production shutdowns
David Budge, CEO, Aurora Labs

The oil & gas and marine sectors are showing significant interest in additive manufacturing, and are potentially large markets, according to David Budge, CEO, Aurora Labs. Two particular benefits of additive manufacturing could open doors to greater use of the technology in these sectors, he added: “Additive manufacturing can slash the cost of parts, and increase their availability, potentially avoiding lengthy and expensive production shutdowns. But, we also need formal ways to assure users that additively manufactured parts are fit for purpose and carry acceptable risks.”

Speeding up parts production

Aurora Labs’ RMP.01 large-format machine (Figure 2) is currently (in 2020) the fastest commercially available Direct Metal Laser Metal 3D metal printer. It can print up to 350 kilogrammes of metal daily. Budge wants to develop a machine that can print a tonne a day, and sees potential to reduce the costs of high-value industrial parts by 90%.

In contrast to the small 3D printers sold for home and artisanal use, Aurora Labs’ machines can print very large parts. The company is in longstanding discussions with a group in Singapore to print parts seven metres long, for example.

Additive Manufacturing - Aurora Lab
Figure 2: Aurora Labs’ strategy to optimize speed and print quality in additive manufacturing is encapsulated in its RMP.01 large-format machine. (Photo: Aurora Labs)
If someone wanted to pay for a printer to print a submarine, it could be done
David Budge, CEO, Aurora Labs

“The point is that the technology is scaleable,” said Budge. “I dare say that if someone wanted to pay for a printer to print a submarine, it could be done; though it might be more feasible to make it in segments.”

If the potential cost and speed benefits of additive manufacturing were not enough, it can also assist companies to reduce their carbon footprints. Less energy is used, and far less material wasted, in printing a part layer by layer than in machining it from a block of metal. Making parts exactly, or close to, where they are needed, reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transporting them. Alternative manufacturing can also produce complex and lighter-weight fit-for-purpose parts than traditional manufacturing.

Digitally certified parts can build trust and protect IP

Budge cites three key enablers for the future spread of additive manufacturing in the oil & gas and marine sectors. The first is to convince potential users of the benefits. The second is to boost trust in 3D-printed parts (Figure 3). The third will be a growing number of success stories to spur general acceptance.

“The speed of our machines will drive change by showing the benefits clearly,” he suggested. “They can mean a digitally certified part being available in two hours, for example, rather than having to wait a week or more.”

When it comes to trust, certification is key for any application of additive manufacturing with acceptable risk, Budge stressed. Aurora has been developing digitally certified parts. These are certified by the machine as they are being printed. “An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can register a part with us, providing a digital file of its design, and our machines anywhere in the world can electronically transmit details of how close a part being made is to the original design,” he explained. For example, a machine might report to the OEM that it is making a part that is only 99% like the OEM design. The OEM can then investigate and decide whether it needs to enforce its intellectual property rights.

“Additive manufacturing does not want to end up in the same position as the music publishing industry in the late 1990s when there was widespread piracy of digital music,” stressed Budge. “If OEMs are offering digital libraries of parts designs, they need to be protected. Just like iTunes, OEMs could have their own storefront for parts designs.”



External certification can secure industry acceptance of printed parts

Beyond digitally certifying parts, external certification is necessary to assure end users that their manufacture makes them fit for purpose and compliant with external standards.

Aurora Labs has worked with DNV GL since 2017 to establish a framework to achieve this. “With the framework now in place, we will be working with different clients, with DNV GL doing the external certification,” said Budge. The aim is to develop processes by which DNV GL can independently and systematically qualify or certify parts made by Aurora Labs’ machines.

Additive Manufacturing AM Valve
Figure 3: Additive Manufacturing Valve
Overcoming challenges in qualification and certification can raise the adoption level of additive manufacturing in the oil & gas and marine sectors
Brice Le Gallo, regional manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL - Oil & Gas

“Overcoming challenges in qualification and certification can raise the adoption level of additive manufacturing in the oil & gas and marine sectors,” said Brice Le Gallo, regional manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL - Oil & Gas.” I am delighted that we will be partnering with Aurora Labs to implement systematic qualification and certification processes. These will provide industrial supply chains with assurance that Aurora Labs’ metal printers meet high standards of quality and integrity.”

DNV GL brings a global presence and a long history of developing and releasing standards and guidelines for the oil & gas and marine sectors, explained Budge. “It is well-known in these industries, and has invested heavily in facilities for R&D1,2 in additive manufacturing, and in developing guidelines3,4,5 and insights about its industrial applications. We feel that it is enthused about our vision of where Aurora Labs can go.”



Additive manufacturing could have a significant impact in five to 10 years

Aurora Labs is currently seeking conditional deals for the use of its technologies, and is in discussions with potential industry partners such as OEMs. “We also expect some of our patents to be granted within the next 12 months,” said Budge.

As for the future, he believes that additive manufacturing could have a significant impact on the oil & gas and marine sectors within five to 10 years. “The speed and depth of this impact could be increased if a limited number of early adopters start to show major cost savings from using digitally certified parts made by additive manufacturing in externally certified processes. The more acceptance we achieve, the quicker it will grow,” he concluded.




REFERENCES

  1. New centre to boost 3D printing in oil and gas industry
  2. Guideline for the 3D-printed parts for oil & gas and maritime industry
  3. Class Programme: Type approval DNVGL-CP-0291 Edition June 2019 Additive manufacturing feedstock
  4. ‘First class approval programme for AM manufacturers’
  5. Class Guideline DNVGL-CG-0197 Edition November 2017 Additive manufacturing - qualification and certification process for materials and components

Further readings:

DNV GL’s technical and advisory services for additive manufacturing/3D printing

Read more

Can ‘printed’ parts make oil and gas operations smarter and greener?

Read more

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DNV GL prides itself on providing accurate information but makes no claims or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of contents in this publication, and disclaims liability for any errors or omissions. The authors’ views here do not necessarily reflect DNV GL’s views.