Oct 31, 2016 | By Benedict

Fugro, a geo-intelligence company, and 3D at Depth, a subsea LiDAR systems provider, have 3D printed an accurate 1:1 model of a damaged well part located 110 meters under the sea in Australia. Data for the 3D printed model was collected using 3D at Depth’s subsea laser scanning technologies.

Laser scanning technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the last few decades, enabling professionals and hobbyists to create highly accurate 3D models of real-life scenes and objects. Occasionally, those 3D models will be turned into 3D printed copies of the scanned object, demonstrating a new process of digital replication. But while 3D scanning might make you think of 3D scanned crime scenes, digital conservation of historical artifacts, or 3D printed selfie booths, the technology has also made a splash in an unlikely place: under the sea.

3D at Depth, a Colorado-based provider of advanced subsea LiDAR systems and solutions, was recently contracted by Canadian geo-intelligence provider Fugro to perform subsea laser scanning services on a well abandonment project in Australia. Using 3D at Depth's subsea LiDAR SL 2 technology and point cloud software, experts were able to explore the Plugged and Abandoned (P&A) wells located roughly 110 meters underwater. These wells were drilled decades ago and suspended at the time of drilling, leaving scarce accurate data about their manufacture and specifications. To confirm their abandonment, detailed measurements needed to be acquired.

To survey the abandoned wells, Fugro deployed its multi-role intervention vessel, the "Rem Etive,” which was fitted with two work class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). One of these ROVs was fitted with a 3D at Depth SL2 Subsea LiDAR laser, mounted on the crash bar of the vehicle, which was able to send near real-time data to a 3D at Depth operator using a fiber optic multiplexor. Approximately 44 million data points were collected at the well in 13.5 hours, while physical measurements were also taken using V-gauges and rulers. The scanned and physically obtained measurements were then cross-checked with original drawings to check for discrepancies.

To generate a 3D model of the underwater structures, the large quantity of collected laser data was processed using point cloud processing tools. These tools gave the project staff a 3D point cloud database, a dimensional report for each well, CAD files, and a 360° animation of each well. With the CAD files, the team was able to commence creating a 3D printed model of the top of the abandoned well, required for the design of an appropriate “hot tap” connector.

Due to the large size of the well, 3D at Depth proposed that 3D printing combined with CNC machining would be the best way to produce a 1:1 scale model. However, generating the required CAD files proved tricky at first due to the complexity of the well’s shape. Auto meshing algorithms which convert point clouds into surfaces did not perform as well as hoped, so the CAD model was developed manually. This, however, is a common technique when modeling complex shapes obtained through laser scans.

The 3D printed model was printed in ABS on an FDM 3D printer, while some CNC machined parts were made from Acetal and the well cap from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). Fugro and 3D at Depth believe that the combination of subsea 3D scanning and 3D printing introduces a wide range of possibilities for reducing costs across intervention planning and Life of Field programs.

“While the individual sector scans provide millimeter accuracies, the wide area point cloud can provide a 3D dataset of centimeter accuracy across an entire drill center,” explained Adam Lowry, MD of 3D at Depth. “Wide area point clouds, when used for planning, have proven to avoid costly surprises which are otherwise only discovered after the intervention vessel is actually on location. Cost savings can be realized from almost any situation where accurate spatial data would be beneficial to planning intervention operations.”

The 3D printing of the well part was part of a larger project conducted in early 2016, using 3D at Depth's subsea LiDAR SL 2 technology and point cloud software.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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