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Shell: CE certification of a 3D printed pressure vessel

Shell and LRQA (formerly Lloyd’s Register) have certified a 3D printed pressure vessel in accordance with the European Pressure Equipment Directive (PED). This is the culminations of a 4-year collaboration to demonstrate the application of 3D printing in the energy industry. Shell is the first company in Europe to have obtained CE certification from a third-party authority for a part 3D printed in-house. LRQA, acting as a Notified Body, categorized the printed vessel in PED Category III.

“This represents a significant milestone, not only for the additive manufacturing industry but also for the pressure equipment community. This is the first CE Marked pressure vessel approved by an independent Notified Body” explained David Hardacre, Lead Specialist, LRQA. “The journey taken together by Shell and LRQA has been technically challenging but immensely rewarding. We have now established a path for anyone to certify additively manufactured pressure equipment under the PED.”

This represents a significant milestone, not only for the additive manufacturing industry but also for the pressure equipment community.

The vessel was manufactured through Powder Bed Fusion at the Energy Transition Campus in Amsterdam and is designed for pressures up to 220 bar. This certification is an important milestone for the energy industry because there are, to date, no legislation or global standards specifically for 3D printed pressure retaining parts. This lack in regulations means that the use of 3D printed pressure equipment is generally not permitted at industrial assets around the globe. Shell printed this pressure vessel to gather research data that help improve the sector’s trust in additive manufacturing as an technical solution to source spare parts “just in time” instead of stocking the spare parts for years.

Shell runs multiple demo projects with relevant technical experts to gain knowledge in various applications of 3D printing, ranging from spare part management to rapid prototyping and testing novel designs. The work in qualifying the pressure vessel provides valuable data points and insights in support of discussions with standards bodies going forward to scale up the use of additive manufacturing for pressure equipment.

Shell will continue to be a leader in the research and development of additive manufacturing.

“Shell will continue to be a leader in the research and development of additive manufacturing,” said Angeline Goh, 3D Printing Technology Lead at Shell. “We collaborate with multiple partners globally to grow our own capabilities and the scope application of 3D printing in the energy sector. We now have the knowledge to also help our partners certify their printed parts for commercialization”.

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