Jun 6, 2016 | By Alec

Industrial 3D printing is especially eye-catching for its ability to 3D print small and complex metal components, but Magma Global and Victrex seem to be taking things into the opposite direction. Using Victrex’s PEEK thermoplastic composite material and a laser sintering 3D printing setup, they have 3D printed the new flexible m-pipe for use in the oil and gas industry. Capable of being deployed to depths of 10,000 feet, this 3D printed m-pipe could greatly increase oil and gas production efficiency.

It is believed that this is the longest PEEK-based structure that has been 3D printed so far, and it will be used for a hydraulic oil and gas pumping system that can handle high pressures and high flow rates. Capable of being 3D printed in continuous lengths of up to 4,000 meters, it’s one of the most remarkable industrial 3D printing projects we’ve seen so far and is the flagship product of Magma Global. Founded in 2009 and currently operating offices throughout the world, they are a prominent provider of reliable risers, jumpers and intervention lines for subsea exploration and oil and gas production.

To develop the m-pipe, Magma Global teamed up with Pennsylvania-based material specialists Victrex. As the company revealed, this new pipe has been especially designed to reduce exploration and production costs for subsea oil and gas systems. It has become part of the Magma deployment system, which also includes a line pipe handling system and an installation platform and winch, for rapid pipe deployment and retrieval.

Though the m-pipe also includes high-grade carbon fiber and S-2 glass fiber components, the PEEK material provides improved buoyancy and corrosion resistance properties that are superior to those of steel pipes. Other advantages include high temperature resistance and excellent fatigue life that makes it suitable for redeployment. The PEEK pipe is also easy to install, can withstand pressure of up to 15 ksi. and facilitates efficient fluid flow. It should, the company says, reduce industry costs and increase efficiency.

As Charles Tavner, the Commercial Director at Magma Global Limited, explained in a press release, the lightweight PEEK thermoplastic composite is the key material in this innovative pipe. “Thanks to partnering with Victrex, we have been able to successfully develop our 10,000 foot solution for hydraulic pumping and light well intervention in the Gulf of Mexico. VICTREX PEEK polymer's high performance, and their material and processing expertise, has supported the new record-breaking flexible and spoolable m-pipe® for the oil and gas industry,” he said.

Tavner went on to reveal that they are looking to rent out pipe as part of a complete deployment package, and that it is easily mobilized by exterior users. “The Magma system is designed to minimize mobilization time and maximize vessel utilization by reducing hydraulic pumping time, reducing intervention costs by up to 30%,” he argued.

As Victrex’s Tom Swanson revealed, this particular PEEK composite was developed specifically for Magma Global and oil and gas applications. “In oil and gas exploration the continuous need to extend scope and efficiency motivates us to develop reliable solutions further. In close collaboration with customers we consequently contribute to solve the toughest challenges,” he added. The thermoplastic has previously been used as an insulating material in subsea connectors for years, and is a common engineering material.

This new m-pipe is also part of Victrex’s new focus on 3D printing. In early May, the company announced that they are leading a consortium of companies (including Airbus) to develop new forms of 3D printable high-performance polyaryletherketone (PAEK) polymers. Those polymers are currently extensively used in injection molding processes, but Victrex and their partners believe the material is perfect for aerospace and medical applications as well. They are also looking to improve the recycling rate of powders used during laser sintering 3D printing to reduce costs, and hope to show tangible results by 2018.

As Victrex’s Chief Executive David Hummel further revealed, the company is convinced that 3D printing can revolutionize industrial production as we know it. “It also allows the production of very complex shapes and geometries that cannot be made by conventional means. High value, lower-volume applications such as aircraft components are the type of application that could benefit the most, although there are other areas, including medical, that may also benefit,” he said. The revolutionary m-pipe certainly suggests that new and exciting 3D printed industrial applications, exploiting the full potential of innovative materials, are just around the corner.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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