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UK firm adopts quad-laser printer for oil & gas valve production

3D-printed oil and gas valves

KOSO Kent Introl, a UK supplier of industrial valves for the oil and gas industry, is experimenting with additive manufacturing (AM) to increase production speed and cost efficiency.

In doing so, the firm has installed a RenAM 500Q Flex quad-laser machine from Renishaw at its headquarters in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

Kent Introl designs and produces high-quality valves for the severe conditions of the oil and gas industry, where it has recently seen increasing demand. The firm is therefore seeking to improve its output and optimise part design while simultaneously increasing the energy efficiency and reducing the carbon emissions of its production processes.

The new Renishaw system will initially be used as part of Kent Introl’s research and development of new parts. In addition, to meet the changing needs of its customers, the firm will also experiment with AM to understand how to diversify production to deliver rapid part development.

“Current material and quality standards set by the oil and gas industry, for example by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), means that very few manufacturers use AM in this sector,” said Matthew Charlton, Technical Director at Kent Introl. “However, when some of our larger customers in the industry began requiring additive capabilities, we developed a strategy to invest in AM technology. Renishaw's system provided the technical capabilities and support we need — we were also happy to invest in a UK manufacturer.”

The RenAM 500Q Flex system uses laser powder bed fusion to produce components with intricate geometries that are difficult and expensive to achieve using traditional manufacturing techniques, such as subtractive machining. It features four 500W lasers and automated powder handling capabilities to help engineers reduce build time and increase productivity. The system also has additional flexibility that enables users to quickly change metal powders, which can be beneficial in research and development applications where different parts are tested.

Kent Introl believes itself to be the first UK valve business to introduce the technology to the shop floor.

“Kent Introl's investment in the RenAM 500Q Flex system is a significant step forward in the adoption of AM technology in the oil and gas industry,” explained Stephen Crownshaw, AM Business Manager at Renishaw. “While additive manufacturing bureaus could produce parts for any industry, they may not have the industry knowledge to effectively advise oil and gas suppliers. So, by installing the equipment themselves, Kent Introl can use its industry understanding and growing AM knowledge to develop parts and processes that benefit its customers. The team's knowledge has increased significantly even from acquisition to installation of the machine, so we're also looking forward to seeing what we can gain from their knowledge of AM in oil and gas”.

“As we use the RenAM 500Q Flex and understand the benefits of AM, we want to explore how it will enable us, and other manufacturers in oil and gas, to shift towards more sustainable and efficient manufacturing processes that meet the demand of a rapidly changing market,” concluded Charlton.

Image: KOSO Kent Introl

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