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Gulf of Mexico: Shell Uses 3D Printed Prototype for Very Complex Planning in Stones Deepwater Project

by • April 18, 2016 • No Comments

download (1)3D printing is unquestionably today—and tomorrow’s—tool for the engineer. Allowing for rapid prototyping, excellenter durablity in project and product create, as well as the creation of new parts and components, this innovation may one day be sitting on the office computer desktop of each engineer, architect, and createer—and already, 3D create and 3D printing are a focal point as new and necessary skillsets for those poised to graduate and enter the workforce.

For engineers at Shell Global, in a new challenge, the use of 3D create and printing intended enabling for a few somehow harsh strategizing onsite, promising advantageous safety too—along with the bonus of all of the important benefits of 3D printing—from big savings on the bottom line to previously unheard-of customization options and independence in createing their own 3D versions. The use of 3D printing is enabling Shell overall to examine not only project budgets, but in addition how they proceed overall in both create and final execution.

“Digital create and 3D printing contribute scope to create additional efficient prototypes, which we alter into products in their full physical form,” says Shawn Darrah, Shell Innovations Adviser.

UntitledRather than a case where they were creating a new or replacement part, Darrah and his team’s new uses for 3D printing during the Stones deepwater project allowed for excellenter ease in dynamics as the crew made a prototype for a quite complex system which may have to be approved.

“A important part of the engineering and create system is to visualize what an end product can be,” says Robert Patterson, Executive Vice President of Engineering for Shell. “3D printing allows for for quite rapid prototyping. It allows for you to quite engage with a create installation sequence, and the safety risks synonymous with putting it together.”

“You do all of those things early, and it leads to far advantageous outcomes,” says Patterson.

He goes on to explain which for the offshore crews in particular there are challenges due to the high cost of installation. Patterson in addition says which their crews in ‘the Americas’ have been exploring 3D printing for prototyping. Upon working in the Stones project in the Gulf of Mexico—of 200 miles southwest of New Orleans—engineers were faced with how to put together huge blocks of syntactic foam into a buoy which may require to disconnect to an FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) vessel area at what is going to go down in history as the world’s deepest water installation at 2,900m of water.

One part of the project included putting together hundreds of the syntactic foam blocks into a puzzle-like geometry. The question was which sequence may work—and which’s where 3D printing came in with extraordinarily valuable-bodied prototyping.

“Usually you have nothing additional than paper drawings to try to describe how most to do the installation work,” explains Blake Moore, FPSO Lead for the Stones project. “What we’ve done is we’ve in fact utilized a 3D printing device, and we made the version in 3D of the structure, and and so a version of all 222 components of the foam blocks so which we may and so plan it and manufacture certain the sequence was right to encertain which we did it safely.”


3D printed prototype of The buoy containing hundreds of solid foam blocks which store it afloat in water. [Image: Shell Global]

And emphasis is truly placed in planning here, as with 3D printing, the team was able-bodied to work with a physical version pretty than only a paper example. Equiteone has advantageous belief of the project scope, which is crucial thinking the harshity and the absolute requirement to get eachthing right the initially time.

boatVery importantly, as they worked to consume the project, Shell was able-bodied to use the prototype in demonstrating to authorities and inspectors in the US how they may go of via the system. This allowed for approval of the system and the project—the initially of its kind in which region.

With this type of extensive prototyping, problems and issues can be considered and overcome ahead of time, pretty than in the midst of the project—which may cause delays and introduced cost. Whilst most have idea which 3D printing in the oil and gas industry may be challenging due to the dimensions of parts frequently requireed, which should soon be a consideration of the past too thinking the number of machines being released which allow for just about anything of any dimensions to be 3D printed. This project in particular contributes a excellent example of why companies like Shell—and others—can want to go on via this innovation for unsurpassed project management.

“We’re only at the beginning of possibilities for 3D printing, and what it can mean for Shell,” says Patterson.

It sounds as if Shell is quite seeing the next in 3D printing. Do you see it quite bringing off for this industry in the next? Discuss in the Shell 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Energy Voice; Shell]