Cameron Hogan, a fourth year student at the University of Strathclyde has won the Engineering Stimulation Techniques: Outstanding Project award from IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers) for work he completed on his fourth year dissertation project.
The project, entitled ‘Metal Additive Manufacturing of Hydraulic Coupler Components’, was to carry out a combination of research, design, manufacture and testing of a hydraulic coupler component using a technique called ‘additive manufacturing’.
Cameron’s dissertation was supported by Aberdeen-based subsea technology specialist, STL, where he previously completed an internship.
STL technical director, Dave McKay, said: “The investment and subsequent progression of innovative technologies, in particular within the subsea sector, is critical to sustaining and cultivating production into the next decade and beyond.
“This growing urgency and drive for innovation in the subsea sector has seen us develop some of the world’s first purpose-built well intervention technologies – which have adaptability and customization at the forefront of their design, enabling our clients to modify their service offerings to meet the varying needs of their customers around the world.”
Cameron analysed and identified the best course of action from all existing additive manufacturing processes on the market and discovered that selective laser melting was the best fit for his plan.
Selective laser melting is a rapid prototyping, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing technique designed to use a high power-density laser to melt and fuse metallic powders together. The process has the ability to fully melt the metal material into solid three-dimensional parts.
Cameron explained: “Through designing and optimizing an existing component for metal additive manufacturing, performing complex analysis and managing the overall project from concept to manufacture, I feel this puts me in a unique position as a graduate. The technical knowledge I have gained in metal additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry has opened my eyes to how much this technology could impact the industry and drive efficiency – something which is a current challenge for the sector.”
Additive manufacturing is fairly new to the oil and gas industry, adding a further challenge to the project as Cameron looked to secure a manufacturing partner to bring his idea to life. He secured a partnership with Belgian manufacturer, Metal Technics 3D, and funding from STL in excess of £3,000 for the machining and manufacture of the designed component, and utilizing STL’s draughtsman for the design.
Cameron continued: “I worked with STL technical director, Dave McKay, throughout the project. He supported me by providing advice and critically questioned me to make sure I could justify my decisions. His design experience and technical knowledge was invaluable.
“Overall, STL supported and funded this work which was critical to the project’s success and I was pleased to deliver real results to the business and demonstrate the investment in me and the project was worthwhile.”
The best design practices for additive manufacturing applied to an existing coupler design resulted in a 12% weight reduction and an excellent print. The project pushed and optimized the boundaries of the coupler’s structural capacity and analysed the coupler’s flow path using computational fluid dynamics to improve the coupler’s cV value by 227%.
Having managed the whole project from design through to manufacture and testing, Cameron achieved an overall mark of 93% and was formally recognized by the IMechE for his work.
“I’m proud that this project shows that university projects have the potential to really impact the industry and I’m ecstatic to be formally recognized by the IMechE.
“I have decided that I would like to pursue a career in subsea engineering coupled with project management in the upstream oil and gas sector and I feel this project will be an invaluable experience to draw on when I graduate in June 2019.”