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TWI and LR Energy launch joint industry project in laser additive manufacturing.

Industry collaboration is the driver for sustainable growth in new manufacturing technology for the energy and offshore industries.

TWI and Lloyd’s Register Energy are presenting a joint industry project, in the UK in September, titled ‘Certification of laser powder additive manufactured components for industrial adoption in the energy and offshore sectors’. The event is expected to attract considerable interest from companies worldwide wanting to collaborate as sponsors of the 18-month project. It will enable sponsors to gain early adoption of ‘approved’ additive manufacturing practices for their products – a competitive advantage in today’s price sensitive market.

Additive manufacturing, also referred to as 3D printing, is widely adopted by the aerospace industry, where its ability to create complex metal parts with a high level of precision, with reduced weight and high material utilisation, makes it a viable method of constructing components for turbines and engines.

Global trends indicate that the additive manufacturing market is set to grow by 390% in the next seven years, with Lloyd’s Register Energy's 2014 Technology Radar survey suggesting that additive manufacturing will have a major impact in the oil and gas industry in the next five years.

However, its application in the energy, offshore and marine sectors is still at a relatively nascent stage. This project, to be operated jointly by TWI and Lloyd’s Register Energy, will bring together research and development efforts with real-world additive manufacturing practices to create new industry product certification guidelines - paving the way for more widespread adoption of additive manufacturing technology and assisting industry in determining how best to tap in to its potential.

TWI and Lloyd’s Register Energy are members of an ISO working group currently developing standards for additive manufacture; however these standards are still several years away from the adoption stage, and there is no provision in existing standards for the certification of parts produced using this technology. The joint industry project from TWI and Lloyd’s Register Energy will aim to deliver evidence-based certification guidelines for laser powder additive manufactured parts within 18 months.

Each sponsor on the project will be invited to contribute a detailed component design to form the subject of a case study. Each component will be taken from concept through to completion, ultimately providing the sponsor with a conditionally certified part that meets industrial requirements for quality, safety and consistency, and which is qualified ready for market introduction.

Sponsors will also benefit from greatly improved knowledge of laser powder additive manufacturing processes and practices, and a reduced cost of certification thanks to the combined processing and manufacturing certification expertise of both TWI and Lloyd’s Register Energy.

TWI has considerable experience in additive manufacturing, having progressed the development of selective laser melting and laser metal deposition processes for many years. With the addition of Lloyd’s Register Energy’s expertise in product certification to achieve compliance with global codes, standards and regulations, this major project will have a significant impact on the energy, offshore and marine industries.

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