Protolabs has achieved DNV certification for 3D printed Inconel parts for the oil and gas industry.
The digital manufacturer worked closely with DNV to achieve ‘Qualification of Manufacturer’ certification. Protolabs is among the first manufacturers in the EMEA region to achieve the certification, and the first certified manufacturer using powder bed fusion technology in its additive process, which gives high resolution and geometrical accuracy.
Daniel Cohn, General Manager and 3DP Lead for Protolabs EMEA said: “Trust is, rightly, an important necessity for the Oil & Gas industry and also the wider energy sector. But now assurance can be given with the work we’ve conducted under the keen eye of DNV - the independent expert in risk management and assurance for the sector. Audits of our manufacturing facilities and processes prove that we comply with the general demands of the Oil & Gas industry so we can now move forward with even greater support for the sector as a whole.”
The certification applies to Protolabs’ direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology, specifically for the superalloy Inconel 718 – a high-strength, corrosion-resistant nickel chromium. Combining the exceptional properties of the material with Protolabs’ expertise in DMLS means the company can rapidly produce complex geometries for parts which are exposed to the harsh environments typical of the sector.
Achieving the certification is a process of technical evaluation of a number of probes within the machinery in combination with the material, individually and the system as a whole. The independent certification provides reliable proof that the probes meet the high qualification standard set out by DNV.
Dr. Sastry Kandukuri, Senior Principal Materials Specialist in DNV’s Energy Systems Business Unit, said: “I am very happy our Global Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technology Centre of Excellence was able to support Protolabs to reach this milestone, as the first certified manufacturer using powder bed fusion technology in their additive process. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Protolabs that gives the assurance and confidence of AM products as their use grows in the Oil and Gas and Energy industries.”
Certification of Protolabs’ DMLS process and its Inconel 718 superalloy provides a new level of assurance, but the company offers a variety of materials and technologies that are relevant to the Oil & Gas, Maritime and Offshore industries, as well as the broader energy sector.
Cohn continues: “We offer a number of metals and plastics for additive manufacturing, each suited to the specific needs of a project. We naturally see possibilities in the sector for Inconel 718 but also, in a less extreme temperature range, for Stainless Steel 316L. We also see possibilities with functional polymers in applications where conditions are not so extreme. The DNV certification applies to our Inconel 718 but we see it as testament to our quality process and expect to see that trust extend to our whole offering.”