The metal machinery manufacturer AML3D starts production of a pressure vessel for the American oil company ExxonMobil. This is a $190,000 contract to design a part 8 meters by 1.5 meters in diameter, making it the largest commercial 3D printed pressure vessel on the market. The manufacturer says it will be able to produce the component that weighs over 2000 pounds in just 12 weeks using its WAM technology.

Pressure vessel is another exciting project in the oil and gas industry, which is increasingly leveraging additive manufacturing to design parts faster and at lower cost. Indeed, a study by consultancy GlobalData indicated that additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry is expected to reach $32 billion by 2025 worldwide, and over $60 billion by 2030. Proof that 3D technologies have a role to play in such a demanding sector.

Last November, AML3D 3D printed the largest pipe spool on the market (photo credits: AML3D)

WAM technology creates a 3D printed pressure vessel

AML3D has developed a 3D printing method based on Directed Energy Deposition (DED), called WAM for Wire Additive Manufacturing. The machine lays down wires layer by layer, with the ability to print a variety of different materials including aluminum, titanium, steel or nickel alloys. Since the solution does not have an enclosed build chamber, the user benefits from an open build space with localized inert gas and the technology can also repair damaged parts directly. It is a process that reduces manufacturing costs and times while optimizing material properties. This is no doubt what led ExxonMobil to choose this technology to produce its pressure vessel. Indeed, the technology has already proven itself when last year AML3D manufactured the largest verified oil and gas piping component.

The piece in question will weigh approximately 2072lbs with a length of 8 meters and a diameter of 1.5 meters. It will be used in refining operations in the United States and is expected to undergo strength and hydrostatic pressure testing for certification. Andrew Sales, Director of AML3D, added: “The signing of this agreement with ExxonMobil is further demonstration of the execution of our phased growth strategy. We are primarily focused on building our capabilities and presence in the global oil and gas industry as an immediate value driver for the business and this contract aligns perfectly with that goal. The tank will be manufactured by five of the eight ARCEMY printers based in Adelaide, Australia. They will operate at 75% capacity. The capacity utilization of the printing plant during this period will be 75%.

Andrew Sales, Managing Director of AML3D (photo credits: Adelaide Now)

AML3D claims that, thanks to its technology, it will be able to deliver the component in record time: where it would typically take 12 months to obtain the tank, only 12 weeks would be required with metal additive manufacturing. Andrew Sales continues, Our proven WAM® The technology disrupts traditional metal fabrication on an industrial scale by producing higher quality components with a significantly shorter production cycle and a much more sustainable methodology involving less waste and less energy. Our understanding is that due to supply chain constraints, some traditional manufacturers estimated a delivery date longer than 12 months. AML3D will deliver a superior component in less than half that time. You can find more information HERE.

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*Cover photo credits: AML3D