Element in the UK, has successfully completed a proof-of-concept research project to design and build equipment for the quality control and repairing of reinforced thermoplastic pipes during the manufacturing process.
The research has significant commercial implications for the industry, which is moving away from a reliance on metallic pipes towards lighter, more flexible, and resistant composite materials. The manufacturing stage demands a continuous process to maintain integrity and critical flaws can be difficult to identify or repair, so this solution could deliver substantial cost reductions.
During the two and a half-year project costing £620,000, the company worked in partnership with global manufacturer GE Oil & Gas and non-destructive equipment specialists Wavelength NDT, with the venture part-funded by the UK Government via the Technology Strategy Board.
Element Hitchin designed and built equipment and test methodologies to ultrasonically detect critical flaws in thermoplastic polymer pipes during the continuous manufacturing process. In addition to physical testing, the team of experts utilised Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to simulate various environments, applying ultrasonic data to complex models. The consortium also created an innovative prototype machine to repair sections of pipe where flaws or delamination would reduce mechanical strength or accelerate material ageing.