Texas-based precision machining company Knust-Godwin recently acquired four RenAM 500Q metal 3D printers from UK-based Renishaw. Since implementing the metal AM systems, the company has reported a drastic reduction in lead times for the production of large, complex components for oilfield instrumentation.
Like many industrial companies, when Knust-Godwin first adopted additive manufacturing, it used the process predominantly for prototyping applications, leveraging AM to help its clients create new tooling designs and to improve the efficiency of tools in the oil and gas sector. With the purchase of four of Renishaw’s RenAM 500Q machines, however, the machining company is now exploring serial production applications.
“Additive manufacturing started as a prototyping technology, but it is now a serialised production process,” commented Mike Corliss, VP of Technology at Knust-Godwin. “Because we are designing components specifically for AM, we have been able to reduce customers’ lead times. A project which previously required a 24 month wait from concept to commercialisation can now be reduced to eight months. The cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry means that providing parts quickly is extremely important.”
According to SmarTech Analysis, the adoption of AM technologies by key oil and gas industry suppliers will result in a $2 billion opportunity by 2029. Within the industry, additive manufacturing offers a number of benefits, especially in the production of precise and complex parts. For instance, the technology is well suited for producing components for down hole measurement while drilling and logging as it offers more efficient flow (in turn leading to longer tool life spans).
Knust-Godwin specifically is also benefitting from a reduction in material waste in the manufacturing process as well as shorter lead times and fewer post-processing steps. According to the Texas-based company, products that previously required six to twelve steps to finish now only require two or three.
“Knust-Godwin has not only benefitted from the huge productivity gains of the machines, but also from tremendous support from Renishaw,” added Corliss. “We see AM playing a large role in our company’s future and we are expecting to see a 40 per cent compound growth year-on-year in the oil and gas industry, and 20 per cent compound growth in aerospace. We are even looking at purchasing additional RenAM 500Q machines for different metal alloys.”
Renishaw’s RenAM 500Q system—first launched in 2018—integrates four high-power 500 W lasers which simultaneously have access to the printer’s whole powder bed surface. With four laser capabilities, the printer enables rapid build times of up to 150 cm³/hour, which in turn leads to lower part cost. The hardware also features automated powder and waste handling systems, which support consistency and system safety while also reducing operator intervention.
“The RenAM 500Q offers productivity and efficiency gains over traditional single laser machines,” concluded Robin Weston, Marketing Manager of Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Product Division. “The benefits offered by AM mean that more and more industries are turning to the technology as a way of producing high-quality, efficient parts.”