Last month, quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL opened an additive manufacturing center of excellence in Singapore, as part of its goal to transform the country’s offshore and marine (O&M) and oil and gas sectors using 3D printing. Now the company is detailing just how much of an impact it believes the center will have – and it’s a big impact.
“This is a potential revolution for the oil & gas and offshore & marine sectors in the way products are designed, manufactured, and distributed to end users,” said Dr. Sastry Kandukuri, Principal Specialist – Additive Manufacturing, DNV GL – Oil & Gas.
The World Economic Forum has estimated that 3D printing could save oil and gas companies $30 billion in cost and time. Organizations can use the technology to access an archive of digital designs for immediate 3D printing, rather than keeping large inventories of parts or having to wait for them to be transported to a ship.
“As the technology becomes more accessible, more affordable, and more capable, it is time for its strategic and sustainable adoption in the oil & gas and offshore & marine industries,” said Brice Le Gallo, Regional Manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL – Oil & Gas. “We are at the start of an emerging market for selling digital rights and licences to print parts, repair and refine obsolete parts, and establish a wider supply chain. Add in Blockchain technology for secure, private traceability and the digital aspect of additive manufacturing is where the scalability and disruptive power of it resides.”
So far, the adoption of 3D printing remains relatively low in the oil and gas sector.
“Technology people do not necessarily understand how these industries work, and the latter do not always understand how the technology can add value,” said Le Gallo. “Adopting 3D printing comes down to a question of trust.”
DNV GL believes that its new Global Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence will help to boost the uptake of 3D printing in the oil and gas and O&M sectors. One major barrier to the adoption of the technology in these industries has been questions about whether 3D printed items can be qualified and certified to standards applied to traditionally made goods – and standards and qualification are DNV GL’s specialty. The company was responsible for creating the first classification guideline for using 3D printing in these industries, and has been putting years of research into the subject.
Dr. Sastry Kandukuri
“Part-by-part certification is costly, time-consuming, and counter to producing and using additive manufacturing parts on demand,” said Dr. Kandukuri, who heads up the Centre of Excellence. “So, it is vital to find alternatives to conventional qualification methods, and these will likely be based on validated models, probabilistic methods, and part similarities.”
The Centre of Excellence will work to provide technical standards and guidelines for qualifying and certifying equipment, processes, products, materials and personnel. It will be an incubator and testbed for 3D printing technology, as well as serving as DNV GL’s global competence and service delivery center for assurance and advisory services.
“The solutions part is about helping customers create a road map for additive manufacturing,” said Dr. Kandukuri. “We are assisting them to identify how additive manufacturing could add value to their businesses, and helping then to work gradually through feasibility stages.”
For example, DNV GL is working with Aurora Labs to develop an additive manufacturing certification standard for the whole value chain from powders to parts.
“We can translate industry needs into a qualification programme and work with technology providers to put that in place, not only during the construction phase of oil & gas or offshore & marine projects, but also during maintenance,” said Dr. Kandukuri. “The Centre of Excellence will play a central role in innovative, technology-driven, cost-effective solutions fabrication of large-scale offshore structural steel parts through the metal additive manufacturing route.”
DNV GL is collaborating with several other companies through the center, including a project with Sembcorp Marine; A*STAR SIMTech; and Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC). The partnership is working to develop laser-aided additive manufacturing (LAAM) technology for the manufacture of large-scale newbuild vessels in Singapore. Several joint industry projects are also underway to define clear requirements for additively manufactured parts.
“Part qualification and certification are key enablers for 3D printing adoption in enterprises, especially in specialized industries such as oil and gas and maritime,” said Dr. Ho Chaw Sing, Managing Director of NAMIC. “DNV GL is a global thought-leader in quality assurance and risk management. Its commitment to establish standards in qualification methodology has paved the way for major shipyards and offshore companies to embark on the 3D-printing journey. The LAAM partnership is the first of many initiatives, and we will continue to build on this.”
The center will play a large role in Singapore’s goal to become an additive manufacturing leader; the country intends to generate substantial added value per year from the technology by 2020. Meanwhile, DNV GL’s work to establish standards will help 3D printing to become more widely adopted in industry everywhere.
“Ultimately, this will be a group-wide initiative in alternative manufacturing,” said Le Gallo. “It will use our global network of experts with deep domain experience, and our laboratories and test sites to address applications in all business areas of relevance to us and our customers. It is an amazing opportunity to impact on the future and to be involved in the future management of a young talent pool that embraces new disruptive technologies.”
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