With LPBF, Upwing Energy moves from engineering design to full SCS compressor rotor assembly in just 10 weeks’ time

Image: Rotor image - compressor rotor image - Credit: Upwing Energy

Through the integration of metal Additive Manufacturing into its processes, Upwing Energy, a gas technology service company, has optimized manufacturing time needed to support its Subsurface Compressor System‘s (SCS) gas well deployment schedules.

The patented SCS increases the production and recoverability of natural gas from existing wells. It employs a multistage hybrid axial compressor, which effectively increases drawdown at the intake and boosts pressure at the discharge.

The SCS’s compressor module is aerodynamically designed to match well-specific flow parameters for maximum production gain. The rotor design is particularly challenging to manufacture as it requires extremely complex surface geometries. All of the compressor components are manufactured from Inconel 718 using a Laser Powder Bed Fusion process from Velo3D.

With metal AM, Upwing can move from engineering design to full SCS compressor rotor assembly in just 10 weeks’ time. Tensile tests have demonstrated that the material properties of AM Inconel 718 meet the ASTM F3055 requirements as well as the requirements specific to the downhole compressor application.

To compare the mechanical properties of AM components to those produced through machined billet, Upwing performed several tests simulating the conditions found in the SCS’s gas compression process. AM parts and billet-produced parts were tested at rotational speeds of 55K RPM or higher, representing the operational overspeed for the SCS.

The parts were then subject to detailed inspection, including using dye penetrant to reveal any surface defects, were balance checked and inspected for dimensional precision. The parts were finally subject to spin-to-burst testing to validate the integrity of each manufacturing method. The additive manufactured parts successfully endured standard operating conditions, and even exceeded overspeed conditions by 2.1 times before failure.

All of our work at Upwing is underscored by the belief that continuous improvement is always possible,” said Robert McKeirnan, Vice President of Supply Chain and External Manufacturing at Upwing Energy. “Our decision to integrate additive manufacturing makes us more scalable and adaptable. It allows us to create parts that are not only durable, but intricately designed and finished with the highest level of precision.”


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