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Vallourec is a large manufacturer of tubular solutions used in some of the most extreme environments, from oil and gas wells to next-generation power plants. 

Earlier this year, Vallourec did something that has never been done before. The company’s team of engineers created the first 3D-printed water bushing using wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) technology. 

Water bushings are a critical component in oil and gas. The part counters hydrocarbon kicks from wells during construction, and part failure likely means equipment destruction.

Vallourec’s 3D-printed water bushing was installed on a Total oil rig in the North Sea. Total is an energy company that produces and sells fuel, natural gas, electricity and renewables.

The part weighs more than 485 pounds, stands nearly 4 feet tall and is the first pressure-containing component produced using WAAM technology. Though the bushing is heavy, it came in at about half the weight of standard parts, a testament to additive manufacturing’s ability to create new, previously unmanufacturable geometries.

According to Total, the installation also marks the first time a safety-critical component in the energy industry was made using additive manufacturing. 

We talk about it often, but additive manufacturing could usher in a new era in the oil and gas supply chain, with nothing more than a digital warehouse making made-to-measure components as they’re needed. 

Additive manufacturing also helps lower the part’s carbon footprint. For example, the water bushing generated 45% lower emissions than those created through the normal forged and machining process. 

The water bushing was under development for more than a year and delivered in February after rigorous testing.
  
Vallourec is an international business with more than 19,000 employees and more than 50 production sites across 20 countries.

Image Credit: Vallourec

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