Shell 3D Prints Impellers for Its Dutch Refinery

Inkbit

Share this Article

The oil and gas industry hasn’t adopted additive manufacturing (AM) techniques to the same extent as some other large-scale industries, like the aerospace and automotive sectors. Nonetheless, oil and gas companies were fairly early adopters of AM, and some of the largest companies have made substantial investments in the technology.

Moreover, it appears that, with investor money gradually starting to return to the sector, oil and gas companies are picking up the pace with which they incorporate new manufacturing processes. One such company is Shell: among the largest companies in the world, and a user of AM for over a decade. According to the company’s 3D printing technology lead, Angeline Goh, Shell recently put into action 3D printed impellers for a centrifugal pump at the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park in Rotterdam.

In a press release, Goh explains, “[AM] has been used at Shell over the last ten years. Still, the criteria and testing to ensure the technical integrity of 3D printed parts remains very demanding. It is not easy to qualify a 3D printed part for deployment in our operations, especially for production critical applications.”

This is why, on an earlier project, Shell worked for four years to gain third-party certification of its 3D printed pressure vessels. When Shell gained certification from LRQA (formerly Lloyd’s register) for the pressure vessels, it became the first European company to have a CE certified, in-house printed part.

On the 3D printed impellers project, Shell also worked with Texas-based Baker Hughes, one of the largest oilfield services firms in the world. Similarly to the work on the pressure vessels, Goh notes that, “A key objective of this collaboration…was to design a repeatable qualification process for vendors of 3D printed parts.” She adds that Baker Hughes has been qualified by Shell to supply the company’s oil operations in Italy, and that the two firms are working together to create a digital portfolio of impellers.

Keeping spare parts on hand for each pump in operation costs Shell about $100,000, so switching to a digital, print-on-demand supply chain could obviously save a great deal of money. This is especially important at a time when oil supermajors are trying to attract investor dollars, and thus need to prove that they can streamline and effectively manage supply chains. The oil industry also operates in remote locations all over the planet, adding an extra incentive for a company like Shell to take its inventory control into its own hands.

That this story, as well as one last month from Chevron, have been released in such close proximity to one another, suggests that the oil and gas industry has entered a new phase in its incorporation of 3D printing. The fact that regulatory requirements for 3D printed parts are now being established and met means that more and more companies are likely to follow suit. It’s no surprise then that SmarTech Analysis projects AM for oil and gas to be a $2 billion opportunity by 2029, according to its “The Market for Additive Manufacturing in the Oil and Gas Sector 2018-2029” report. 

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing News Briefs, May 28, 2022: Metal 3D Printer, Machine Learning, & More

Digital Supply Chains and 3D Printing Come to Alaska via Ivaldi



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing News Briefs, May 26, 2022: Filaments & Ink, Cultural Artifacts, & More

In 3D Printing News Briefs today, we’ll be sharing some material news, followed by a new 3D printing-focused product line, and finally onto cultural heritage. First, Braskem has released three...

New 3D Printing Hardware, Collaborations & More at RAPID+TCT 2022

This year, the RAPID + TCT conference kicked off Tuesday with new products, materials, and solutions, many of them on display at the event. 2022 is the 31st year for...

Featured

The Digital Textile Tech Behind Kornit’s Sustainable Fashion

I recently traveled to Israel to attend Kornit Fashion Week Tel Aviv 2022 and see Kornit Digital (NASDAQ: KRNT) introduce its Atlas MAX Poly and Apollo solutions for digital, sustainable fashion. The...

3D Printing News Briefs, April 20, 2022: Funding, Spare Parts, & More

Additive Marking has reported a successful investment round, while PharmE3D Labs received federal funding for 3D printed contraception research. This starts off today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, and then we’ll...