NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) is collaborating with additive manufacturing technology developer SPEE3D, Charles Darwin University and an oil and gas operator to support the development of a new high-speed, low-cost metal 3D printing technology specifically for the oil and gas industry.
The new 3D printing technology developed by SPEE3D uses a novel new metal deposition technique, relying on kinetic energy from a rocket engine rather than thermal energy from a laser to promote the bonding of metal particles. The new process allows parts to be formed faster than traditional 3D printing allows, and at low cost.
The technology can operate around 1000 times the speed of conventional metal 3D printing at a fraction of the cost and has the potential to revolutionize industrial activities in remote areas by allowing onsite metal part production and removing the costly delays involved with sourcing materials from far afield.
The combination of SPEE3D providing new technology, industry providing problem statement and Charles Darwin University providing the testing facilities brings together a perfect marriage of applied research and industrial capability. The printer, once finalized and validated, will become the newest product from SPEE3D, and will be used throughout Australia and exported all over the world as the first product able to generate parts on demand for remotely located, heavily industrial sites.
Proving the energy grounds
3D printing is traditionally not a commercially useful tool to the energy resources sector due to high print costs and long lead times. This project changes that by introducing a new and proven 3D printing technology.
This technology will be incorporated into a new commercially available machine that can be cost-effectively located on site. The printer will enable environments to fabricate the necessary parts on site and limit costly delays associated with downtimes that can be in the order of tens of millions of dollars. Example parts might be pipe fittings and flanges, brackets, guards, adapters, couplings, housings and impellers.
The technology also extends the lifetime of legacy equipment, delaying or eliminating the need for capital upgrade. The technology is Australian developed and Australian owned by SPEE3D. Any export of the product into overseas markets represents a win for Australian Industry.