How Velo3D Technology Reduces Lead-Time for Upwing Energy’s Gas-Compressor Module


USA-based provider of natural gas services, Upwing Energy, utilized technology sourced from 3D metal printer manufacturer, Velo3D to create its Subsurface Compressor System (SCS) compressor module through 3D printing.

Employing Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) 3D printer by Velo3D provided Upwing with the capabilities to reduce the manufacturing duration necessary for meeting its SCS gas well implementation schedules.

Utilization of 3D printing empowered the corporation to transition from the initial engineering design phase to the production stage of the complete compressor rotor assembly within a mere 10 weeks. Furthermore, the superior quality and durability of the 3D printed components were demonstrated through tests that replicated the conditions of the gas compression procedure.

Robert McKeirnan, who holds the position of Vice President of Supply Chain and External Manufacturing at Upwing Energy, made an observation that “Every task at Upwing is driven by the notion that it’s always possible to strive for continuous improvement”.

“Our decision to implement additive manufacturing permits us to become more flexible and expandable. This technique enables us to fabricate components that are not only robust but also meticulously fabricated and finished with unparalleled precision.”

Enhancing SCS compressor module manufacture

The proprietary SCS compressor module of Upwing, made from Inconel 718, is engineered to augment the generation and recoverability of natural gas from existing wells. With the purpose of accomplishing this, the SCS integrates a multi-tiered hybrid axial compressor, which amplifies drawdown at the reception and increases pressure at the discharge.

The company’s SCS compressor module incorporates an aerodynamic design to match well-specific flow parameters, allowing for maximum production gain. According to Upwing Energy, the production of the compressor’s rotor design is especially challenging due to its complex surface geometries.  

In addition to notable lead time savings, Velo3D’s metal 3D printing technology reportedly enables the creation of more intricate designs than conventional manufacturing methods. What’s more, the 3D printed components feature geometric and materials benefits, resulting in improved performance and increased part lifecycle. 

Tensile testing has demonstrated that additively manufactured Inconel 718 parts meet ASTM F3055 standards. Downhole compressor-specific requirements are also reportedly met by 3D printed Inconel 718. 

During the SCS development process, the mechanical properties of 3D printed components were compared to those produced through machined billet, a standard industrial manufacturing method. Here, various tests simulating conditions found in the SCS’s gas compression process were conducted.

Both 3D printed and machined billet-produced parts were tested at rotational speeds of 55K RPM or higher, the operational overspeed for the SCS. Detailed inspection was then carried out on the parts. This included the use of dye penetrant to expose surface defects, balance checks, and dimension precision inspections. Finally, a spin-to-burst test was conducted to validate the integrity of each manufacturing method.

Ultimately, the additively manufactured parts successfully endured the standard operating conditions of the gas compression process, exceeding overspeed conditions by 2.1 times before failure.

Post-test X-Ray of additively manufactured component following 66,000 RPM rotational testing. Image via Upwing Energy.

Bolstering the oil and gas sector with AM

The use of additive manufacturing within the oil and gas industry is growing, with companies leveraging industrial 3D printing for a range of applications.

Original source


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