Protolabs has become one of the first metal additive manufacturers in Europe to secure DNV ‘Qualification of Manufacturer’ certification to supply its metal additive manufacturing services to the oil and gas and energy sectors.
The company, which has its European HQ in Telford, also became the first certified manufacturer using powder bed fusion technology in their additive process – ideal for high resolution and geometrical accuracy.
Daniel Cohn (left), general manager and 3DP lead for Protolabs EMEA, said: “Trust is, rightly, an important necessity for the oil and 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 and 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 that are exposed to the harsh environments typical of the sector.
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 and gas, maritime and offshore industries, as well as the broader energy sector.
Protolabs, as part of its drive to offer 3D printed parts even faster through a growing portfolio of materials and services, is building a new 5,000 square metre production facility in Putzbrunn in Germany that will give customers even greater access to the firm’s automated manufacturing processes and quality systems. The €13.5 million investment will increase its 3D printing capability by 50% to meet the growing demand for this technology.
Mr Cohn added: “We are the world’s fastest digital manufacturer that can provide assurances needed, but a major goal for us is to produce parts even faster and deliver on an even wider envelope of service for our customers.
“When a finished design enters our online ordering platform it goes through a short feasibility check by our expert design team, and then on to be printed. The DNV certification will give us the trust needed and the new facility will give us the capacity needed to deliver even more projects in as little as one day.”