With the Energy sector spanning both hydrocarbon and renewable energy sources, the production of component parts is a critical part of the supply chain to ensure the efficient operation of any energy asset in the Oil & Gas, Renewable or Nuclear sectors. Embracing digital connectivity can provide measurable benefits especially when it comes to producing safer, reliable, more sustainable and more efficiently produced parts. Whilst at the same time supporting existing equipment with longer life cycles that may have been in use for decades. From components for wind turbines and solar panels to valves and pipes for the oil and gas industry, digital manufacturing can help get parts to production quickly and efficiently, to an industry with constantly evolving supply targets and demanding application requirements.
Why Protolabs for components and equipment in the Energy Industry?
Machining has been instrumental in the creation of the complex devices required in the energy industry. This is due to high technology requirements, advanced equipment requirements, complexity and quality of parts required.
Many key components in oil operation are threaded parts. Find out more information on what threading services Protolabs offers here in 5 easy steps.
3D Printing Technology
Use additive manufacturing to cut costs for solar energy, help solve transportation problems and cut-down on labour intensive processes for wind energy, complex prototypes required for oil and gas energy and to produce discontinued parts to solve replacing expensive outdated models.
Quality Certifications and Traceability
Take advantage of our ISO9001-certified manufacturing processes for high-requirement parts. Also our DNV Qualification of Manufacture Certification for Inconel 718.
Choose from more than 30 different metal alloys and hundreds of industrial-grade plastic materials.
Injection Moulding for Energy Components
Within the energy industry there is a requirement for highly engineered solutions. Chemical/corrosion/temperature resistance, durability and the ability to function in extreme environments are key.
Injection moulding offers benefits such as bridge-tooling and on-demand parts, which is good for parts that need to be produced repeatedly.
Some of the more common plastics moulded in the energy industry include; PEEK, LSR and Tecaform. Used as housing, seals, gears etc.
CNC Machining for Energy Components
CNC machining has been instrumental in the creation of components for the energy industry. It is able to create complex, accurate, high-finish, high-tolerance parts, efficiently.
The energy industry requires durable, long-lasting parts that can take on large amounts of stress.
With CNC machining, also comes threading, which is important particularly to the non-renewable energy industry. Many key components in an oil extrusion are threaded parts.
3D Printing for Energy Components
Additive manufacturing is a rapidly developing manufacturing process which is gaining traction across industry.
Additive manufacturing allows for high-quality prototypes and end-use-components, whilst maintaining a relatively low-cost and fast turnaround times. Perfect for companies looking to test and develop new products.
To overcome the challenge of sourcing obsolete parts. 3D Printing offers a solution for replacing discontinued items, rather than having to replace expensive outdated models.
Other benefits include; Reduction of labour intensive processes and cost reductions.
Protolabs offer a Qualification of Manufacture Certificate in metal 3D printing of Inconel 718.
Approved for Manufacture Certificate for Inconel 718
Additive Manufacturing is a rapidly developing manufacturing technology within the energy sector. With potential risks of failure for any manufactured part being crucial to understand within the industry, having confidence in the Additive manufacturing process becomes even more critical.
By working with DNV in following their Qualification of Additive Manufacturer certification scheme, Protolabs processes and manufacturing standards have been independently audited providing further confidence and trust in the use of Additive Manufactured parts within the supply chain for the sector.
The certification includes a build process qualification for Inconel 718, a feedstock metal.
Inconel 718 is as a high-strength, corrosion resistant nickel chromium that hardens with age and can be readily fabricated, even into complex parts, and used within extreme hot and cold temperatures. The properties of Inconel 718 make it an ideal material for use in the oil and gas sector due to its performance in extreme environments, along with its durability and anti-corrosion properties.
A key area for additive manufacturing to support could be the manufacturing of spare parts, where original mould casts no longer exist.
Along with this certification Protolabs already holds certifications such as ISO 13485 for metal additive manufacturing and ISO 9001:2015.
How DFM (Design for Manufacturability) can Support with your Product Life Cycle
Due to stringent timescales, speed and efficiency is needed for testing and developing prototypes within the energy industry. Especially when you are dealing with complex parts and constantly evolving supply targets. Protolabs' design for manufacturability (DFM) service can provide you with a quote within hours. This means design and iteration has never been quicker or easier. To support you even further, if your part comes back as not manufacturable our expert team of Application Engineers are on-hand to discuss and support you in finalising a part that Protolabs can produce. Once you design has been quoted, it's simply a case of ordering your functional prototypes using our rapid prototyping services, which can ship parts in as little as 1 day.
What Materials Work Best for Energy Sector
Steel is the most widely used metal in the oil and gas industry.
It is also commonly used for components in the renewable energy sector. Wind turbine towers are constructed mainly of steel as it is strong, safe and effective. Steel is also used to hold the blades in place. Utility-scale solar projects are also large consumers of steel, primarily for their structures.
Stainless steel is a common choice due to its corrosion resistance, making it relatively maintenance free. It also has good weldability. Making it the perfect choice for structural components, heat exchangers, steel pipes etc.
Strong and high resistance to wear and tear. The most common material selected for components produced in the oil and gas industry. Useful for pipes and platforms along with other structural components.
Due to its high-strength and corrosion resistance, Inconel 718 (nickel super alloy) is a good choice for applications within the oil and gas industry. It's many properties make it particularly attractive, including good tensile, fatigue, creep and rupture strength. It is also good at high temperatures (of between 200°c and 700°c).
Inconel 718 is a heat-treated alloy meaning its mechanical properties more uniformed and more suited for required maintained tolerances during machining. It's long-life make it well suited for down-hole components.
Some of Inconel's common applications include jet engine components, gas turbines, and related equipment exposed to extreme environments.
Along with it's excellent properties, at Protolabs Inconel 718 holds the DNV Qualification of Manufacture Certification, ensuring that the process has quality under control.
Aluminium's high specific strength (strength-to-weight ratio) allows users to reduce weight of drilling equipment, support with transportation and allows for excellent potential in extended reach when drilling wells, making it useful for the oil and gas industries.
Aluminium's many special properties also make it a useful material for the solar power industry. Apart from its light-weight and high-strength, it also has good corrosion properties, high surface reflectivity and is an excellent conductor of thermal and electrical currents. With the bulk of aluminium use coming from PV and CSP solar power, this metal and it's alloys are useful for mounting structures, panel frames, parts in the power block and cooling tower.
Whilst not as common, Aluminium is also sometimes used for wind turbines, though steel tends to be the preferred metal here.
Peek's high thermal mechanical strengths, strong resistant properties such as creep resistance, wear resistance, hydrolysis resistance (even against super heated steam) and toughness mean that it is a good candidate for the oil and gas industry. Some of the materials' key applications include gears, valve seals, friction bearings and pump housings.
In slightly less demanding applications - Acetal/POM make for an excellent engineering grade plastic and are more economical.
This diagram shows examples of some of the parts that can be produced for components and parts used in the Energy industry, using our rapid prototyping services.
If you have questions regarding your energy part or component, please call +44 (0) 1952 683047 or email [email protected]
We have a number of technologies ideal for energy components. Common applications include:
- Generator components
- Turbine Components
- Turbine Housing
- Hydraulic Components (This list was created by Ash, asked AEs to produce list against an xray img to potentially update this with)
Protolabs and DNV Online Discussion
“We had a couple of rounds of modifications and material changes, throughout which the guys at Protolabs were extremely efficient and very helpful.”