This paper describes research and analysis undertaken by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, Senvol, and commercial partners, to compare conventional and additive manufacturing methods for geothermal applications.
17 parts representing typical downhole tools used in the geothermal industry were considered for manufacturability and techno-economic assessments.
Conventional manufacturing and direct energy deposition approaches were estimated to be more cost-effective for roughly half of the 17 parts analyzed.
Selective Laser Melting was most cost-effective for 13 of the 17 parts considered when increasing economies of scale to 10 or more parts per build.
Design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) techniques are critical to incorporate early into any manufacturing evaluation assessment. In some cases, discussions with OEMs found that dimensional tolerances of tools could be relaxed from their original conventional design to better fit DfAM without sacrificing functionality.
Illustrating the promise that DfAM can have, a drilling tool vane motor component being built by Sandia National Laboratories was redesigned for additive manufacturing. This redesign resulted in 27% increase in part rotational speed and 5% overall maximum speed increase of the vane motor while maintaining rotational stiffness.