Lloyds certifies first AM part for oil and gas

Lloyds Register has certified a pipeline manifold component – the first additively manufactured part that it has qualified for use in the oil and gas industry.

From left to right, Safer Plug’s gateway manifold is show in three states of manufacture: Transparent stereolithographic prototype, additively manufactured in titanium but not machined, and the final machined titanium part.

The part, a titanium gateway manifold for pipelines, was designed by Safer Plug Company (SPC) and built by the AM production company 3T RPD using powder bed fusion. SPC invited Lloyds Register (LR) a year ago to provide independent assurance of the manifold’s manufacture, knowing that LR had developed a framework to guide manufacturers and to certify the final components. The part itself would have been difficult to produce conventionally due to its complex internal channels.

Ciaran Early, SPC technical director, commented: “LR’s pivotal role is to guide suppliers through the codes, standards, controls and best practices to manufacture AM parts, in order that end users will have full confidence that an AM part meets the required level of criticality for that part.”

LR’s framework, produced alongside The Welding Institute (TWI), takes into account more than material standards. The manufacturing facility was also assessed by the LR team. Going forward, LR will certify the next batch of 10 manifolds produced by SPC and 3T RPD. SPC is now working with LR on a Type Approval certificate which would allow it and 3T RPD to produce the manifolds on demand, as well as the pipeline isolation tools.

Dr Claire Ruggeiro, director innovation, technical and quality for LR, says that this certification gives the industry and its customers confidence in additive manufacturing, adding: “This will undoubtedly accelerate the adoption of AM into the oil and gas mainstream. The work we have done with TWI and research undertaken by the LR Foundation-funded PhD students has provided the robust basis for this certification and we look forward to further building our expertise and experience together with the industry pioneers like SPC.”

Lloyds Register is currently involved in several other additive manufacturing projects within the nuclear, marine and construction industries. It is involved in three joint-industry projects with TWI which are open to companies that would like to learn more about the AM process.

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