Extreme customization, coupled with the constant improvement in material quality, has enabled additive manufacturing to attract the attention even of industries where production lines are often still closely tied to traditional processes, such as the OilGas industry. An industrial field that is finally beginning to understand the boundless potential of 3D printing, particularly with regard to the use of superpolymers.
PEEK: a valuable ally in the advanced production of industrial valves
Among these, the flagship material in additive manufacturing is undoubtedly PEEK. A superpolymer that Valland SpA, an Italian company with international reach that specializes in the production of custom industrial valves for hydrogen and oil & gas, prints with incredible results, thanks to 3ntr’s Smart Power A4SP 3D printer, an evolution of the A4v4 system.
Accelerating research and development processes with 3D printers from 3ntr
A4SP is a powerful and versatile desktop 3D printer that provides unparalleled thermal stability and efficiency, thanks to its Liquid Cooling system. “Valland began exploring the world of 3D printing in 2016, initially relying on external suppliers,” says Gianluca Acquistapace, Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Valland. “Since 2020, the company has decided to create an internal department dedicated to Additive Manufacturing, officially established at the beginning of 2022, and to make the definitive leap in quality, it was decided to focus on 3ntr’s A4SP. Since the first tests performed, the printer has given extremely positive feedback both in terms of the quality of printing superpolymers such as PEEK, and in terms of precision and repeatability. Having a printer of this level in house has enabled us to definitely accelerate our research and development processes, giving us an important competitive advantage.“
The possibility of experimenting and testing by exploiting the characteristics of a superpolymer such as PEEK, a material that is extremely solid and resistant and therefore ideal for a sector with complex needs, such as the Oil&Gas sector, has allowed Valland to pursue projects that until recently seemed unthinkable: “We started with functional prototyping,” continues Gianluca Acquistapace, “and then sported rather quickly on the production of equipment and components for internal use, which gave us a strong advantage both from an engineering point of view.“
Production of complex end-use parts in superpolymer, with 3ntr’s A4SP 3D printer
“We don’t want to stop here, and the next goal is to produce end-use parts with 3D printing. We recently received the first order for valves with 3D printed parts inside them. This is an important first step that shows how thanks to additive manufacturing we can design and print in superpolymer components that go into simplifying the valve.“
Metal replacement and re-design for additive: the benefits in oil & gas and industrial hydrogen valve manufacturing
A clear change in perspective, that given by 3D printing, which makes it possible to revise and re-evaluate the processes and materials used up to now: “The theme of metal replacement and re-design for additive is more present than ever in our sector,” concludes Gianluca Acquistapace, “for example, our designers have completely rethought bearings that were previously made in steel and are now testing in PEEK, with an advantage in terms of timing without sacrificing performance. Having a printer like 3ntr’s A4SP in house gives us the ability to devise innovative solutions that would have been impossible with traditional technologies. Also, thanks to the flexibility of 3D printing, we can respond even more punctually and quickly to the special needs of our customers.”
The creation of customized industrial hydrogen and oil and gas valves is skillfully conducted by Valland at an ever-increasing level, taking full advantage of the potential of 3D printing, particularly thanks to 3ntr’s A4SP desktop 3D superpolymer printer.
The creation of a fully dedicated additive manufacturing hub within Valland’s industrial area demonstrates how the perception of 3D printing, even in complex areas, is reaching increasingly important levels, ensuring an ever greater leap toward the manufacturing evolution of smart production.
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