A common issue with aging assets is the fact that spare parts are no longer available. Renovating the entire system is then an option, but it is often an extremely expensive one. At Sitech, we are increasingly using 3D laser scans as an innovative and affordable alternative that has already yielded significant benefits for our clients at Chemelot.
Wilbert Derks, Program Manager Innovations at Sitech, explains: “One of the plants we provide maintenance for has cold water pumps, and the rotor was damaged. The rotor normally costs EUR 5000, but unfortunately was no longer available. The manufacturer proposed replacing the cold water pump in its entirety, but that would have cost EUR 150,000. Not to mention that a number of pipes would then also have to be adapted, since the pump wouldn’t have fit precisely between the flanges. If you opt for a replacement, the costs can quickly mount up.”
Making and manufacturing models
We managed to duplicate the rotor using 3D laser scans. Wilbert Derks: “After we scanned the part, we were able to use the point cloud to create a CAD/CAM (digital) drawing, which can then be used in a variety of production processes,” explains Wilbert Derks. “For example, a replacement part could now be milled or 3D-printed, or we could create a mold. All of which are attractive to the client from a cost perspective.”
From pump to point cloud
Alongside this rotor, we have gained experience with this technology in a number of other areas. Robbie Aretz, Mechanical Engineer Rotating Equipment vertelt: “One of our clients uses a particular type of pump and the manufacturer indicated that it was no longer possible to supply spare parts,” explains Robbie Aretz, Mechanical Engineer Rotating Equipment. “We therefore completely disassembled this pump and scanned all the individual components, to an accuracy of at least 0.02 mm, which means we now have a very precise point cloud for each part. The next step is to translate that into a CAD/CAM drawing, after which we will be able to reproduce any part of the pump.”
Previous success stories
Wilbert continues: “We have already achieved some great successes using this technology. We used it to 3D-print a pump impeller, which was then successfully incorporated into an installation. We also manufactured a gate valve that way. At Sitech, we are always on the look-out for practice cases where we can gain experience. Clients and colleagues are approaching us more and more often with their ideas, and we’re exploring the possibilities together, as we know that this technology definitely has more to offer.
Would you like to know more about 3D laser scanning, or test out one of your own ideas? If so, please contact one of our Technology Managers.