Weatherford, an american company specializing in the design and manufacture of equipment for the oil and gas industry, was able to count on Vallourec to manufacture and deliver two lifting plugs in record time. Rising to the challenge, the group used its brand-new expertise in Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing, to offer a 3D printing solution. This ensures a fast, competitive response to customer needs that meets all performance and safety criteria.
Weatherford needed to quickly deliver two lifting plugs for a well optimization project being carried out for one of its customers off the coast of Australia. These safety-critical components each weigh 175kg, are 50cm in diameter and can support loads of nearly 100 tons.
The problem was that these parts are designed to fit existing equipment and needed to be customized using a non-standard material. The manufacturing times were therefore very long.
When Weatherford called on Vallourec for an emergency delivery of VAM® TTR HW lifting plugs, the Group proposed its innovative Additive Manufacturing system, which is fast, economical and offers the same level of quality.
This Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing solution (WAAM) therefore made it possible to redesign the parts to include non-standard measurements compatible with Weatherford’s equipment. It also reduced their weight while maintaining the same level of performance. The two lifting plugs were then 3D printed by the Vallourec WAAM robot installed in Singapore – just six hours’ flight from the delivery location.
A significant amount of time was saved! The two parts were delivered in two months, instead of the usual three to four months.
WAAM can now be offered to other customers for a wide variety of needs. Indeed, one of its main advantages is the great freedom of design it allows and the ability to print very large components. This process will also allow companies to create digital or virtual warehouses, through which they will be able to order spare parts in the form of printable files.
Thanks to WAAM, we were able to manufacture a lifting plug in half the time of the traditional process with the same mechanical properties and meeting the customer’s specific OD requirements with no minimum order quantity. This wouldn’t have been possible with traditional processes as we would have been limited to the OD of the available solid bar or we would have had to purchase a new solid bar with a larger OD further extending the lead time.Jinwei Li Vallourec Commercial Vice President, Asia-Pacific