Whittaker Engineering is a rapidly growing business based in Aberdeenshire that designs, builds, supplies, fits, maintains and repairs components and equipment for the marine and offshore industries.
The last year has seen surging demand from its oil and gas customers, who are looking to purchase parts more quickly, reduce lead times and avoid the enormous costs associated with downtime.
The team at Whittaker have been exploring the introduction of DED-arc (commonly referred to as Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM™)) as a service for its customers.
Offering a way to reduce the long lead times associated with more traditional manufacturing processes, they were keen to take WAAM™ from a research and development (R&D) stage to a commercial offering. First, they required the confidence and production-ready processes.
What did NMIS do?
The NMIS Additive Manufacturing Team provided support through its AM-BATS project, which provided SMEs with knowledge and skills that de-risk the adoption of innovative technologies and create an environment of certainty and confidence with the goal of encouraging investment.
Whittaker was matched with an oil and gas original equipment manufacturer (OEM) looking to address the long lead times with forgings for parts that it designs for oil pipelines.
The team at Whittaker then worked with NMIS experts to devise a WAAM™ build program and share knowledge, resulting in a test component, printed within days, for use as a demonstrator for oil and gas applications.
The Additive Manufacturing Business and Technology Support (AM-BATS) project was funded by the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF). The primary aim of AMCF projects, moderated by Scottish Enterprise and funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is to advance the manufacturing capabilities of small to medium-sized enterprises in Scotland.
Working with NMIS is always great and we found that information flowed both ways. We really benefited from access to the NMIS additive experts and feel more confident in our own new additive offering and R&D activities. We’re also grateful to have been matched with a well-known OEM in the oil and gas industry that we hope to continue to collaborate with."
The introduction to an end user provided an opportunity for Whittaker to work with NMIS to deliver a demonstrator part and prove that it’s possible to print at large scale and replace traditional forgings for oil and gas components in a matter of days instead of months.
The business now has the confidence to offer WAAM™ to its customers and is in talks regarding numerous new projects. It will continue to participate in R&D for new materials using WAAM™ and keep expanding this area.