Guides promise rush of 3D-printing use

Article by Staff Writer

LLOYD’S REGISTER has launched new certification guidelines that it says will accelerate industry’s use of 3D-printed parts.

The guidance notes provide a framework for manufacturers of 3D-printed metals to achieve certification with Lloyd’s Register in a bid to provide confidence among end-users that the parts produced using the breakthrough manufacturing technique meet the necessary standards and best practices to ensure quality and safety.

3D printing – or additive manufacturing – creates objects by building them layer by layer. This means designs are no longer restricted by conventional machining techniques and parts can be produced without waste and more quickly at point of use. The technology is already being used by industry leaders including Rolls-Royce and General Electric but there’s an expectation that the benefits of the technology could in time lead to a wider manufacturing revolution.

“It is increasingly obvious that the technology is now at a stage where its adoption in general engineering is technically possible and commercially viable,” said Roger Fairclough, principal project leader at research and technology organisation TWI, which has worked with Lloyd’s Register to help develop the guidance.

“To enable full industrial take-up of the technology, it is essential that the certification and validation procedures used for conventional manufacturing processes are extended and, if necessary, modified to suit additive manufacturing. This joint industry project between Lloyd’s Register and TWI will bridge this gap for the project participants and enable them to bring AM parts quickly and safely into the industrial marketplace,” Fairclough added.

Announcing the guidelines, Lloyd’s Register said the cost savings and efficiency gains of 3D printing could help restore competiveness and increase investor confidence in the oil and gas sector.

“Additive manufacturing will have a major impact in the oil and gas industry in the next five years,” said Chris Chung, head of strategic research at Lloyd’s Register Energy.

“We believe operators working in offshore and onshore can learn a lot from other industries [using the technology] particularly in the fast manufacture and replacement of equipment and components used in standard and critical applications,” he added.

Rolls Royce has been exploring 3D printing for component manufacture and repair for over half a decade.

“We believe AM will increasingly have a major part to play in how manufacturers and designers tackle challenging component design, prototyping and manufacture,” said Derek Jones from the research and technology programme within Rolls-Royce’s Nuclear business. “Shortening the manufacturing time by almost a third gives us more time to design, which is always a benefit.

“We recognise that AM has the potential to deliver real benefits across many energy applications in the future, including nuclear. The consistent approach and standards for component certification provided by this project will be a significant step forward in proving to our customer the industrial viability of components made using the latest [3D printing] techniques,” he added.

Last year, Lloyd’s Register and TWI began working with a number of industry partners including Rolls-Royce that are now using the guidelines to gain early certification of their 3D-printed components.

A spokesperson for Lloyd’s Register told The Chemical Engineer that while other third party bodies are looking to develop a framework for certification, the company feels its offering is “ahead of the game”.

“Lloyd’s Register is involved with the International Organization for Standardization, introducing globalised standards across the additive manufacturing industry. At this point, a standard has been established to define terminology when discussing additive manufacturing, and high-level standards regarding processes and design methods are being discussed. Because supply chains are frequently spread across multiple countries, these standards are important to ensure consistency, but take time to develop.”

Article by Staff Writer

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