Engineered polymers are able to replace metals and deliver additional safety and efficiency in more and more industry applications
Compared to many traditional, metal-based solutions used by the oil and gas industry, polymers offer customers more versatile alternatives. By altering the composition of a polymer, products can be tailored specifically around industry needs.
Some polymers are even capable of outperforming steel and other metals in their core areas such as strength and cost.
InnovOil spoke with Nylacast Group marketing manager Junaid Makda about the engineering company’s products and what they have to offer their customers.
Nylacast is a manufacturer of low weight, low friction engineered products. They provide high-end, custom-manufactured components for companies and service providers across the oil and gas industry, with safety-critical products featured in industry standard equipment and projects.
“As one of the largest manufacturers of cast nylon in Europe, Nylacast is unique in that it has full control of the manufacturing process from initial chemistry to end products,” Junaid said.
“Nylacast does not stock or supply standard industry components – engineered products are designed and manufactured around specific customer requirements. This allows our engineering teams to select the most suitable material, or custom formulate a material if required, to deliver better performance, safety and efficiency to the end application.”
“Engineered products and polymers developed by Nylacast are not your typical plastics – they are dimensionally stable, tough, low friction and corrosion resistant, making them the ideal replacement for traditional metals.”
Polymers in industry
Nylacast’s polymers and engineered products are used within industry applications that call for low friction, low weight, corrosion resistance, wear and abrasion resistance and are typically present on subsea equipment, clamps, buoyancy modules, seals, spacers, protection systems, ROV components, thruster nozzles, sheaves, pulleys, rollers, protection caps, debris caps, pipe-in-pipe spacers and shrouds, to name but a few.
“Nylacast work with valued customers in the oil and gas industry in various capacities. For some customer groups, we formulate solutions from initial design and testing all the way through to completion of end-products. For other customers, we work to their drawings and specifications, manufacturing materials and machined components within our state-of-the-art facility,” Junaid said.
“Essentially, any area of the industry which has movement, friction or corrosion involved, there is potential to use Nylacast polymers to improve performance and efficiency. For this reason we work closely with equipment manufacturers in the industry.”
Nylacast offers a number of different polymers for industry use, including high performance plastics such as PEEK. Manufactured in the UK, Nylacast also supplies its own range of materials that have been used in industry across the globe for more than five decades. The engineering company also supplies custom-formulated materials.
“The main material that we work with is Cast Nylon 6 or PA 6, so it’s a polyamide 6,” Junaid said.
“Principally, we make our own range of materials right from the raw ingredients to the end-product. However, we have different derivatives and variations. Because we’re manufacturing everything from scratch, our in-house research, development and engineering team will custom-formulate material grades according to need.”
“Some offer more lubrication, some offer higher strength, some offer less water absorption. We produce a material called Aquanyl PA 6/12 and that’s a co-polymer of Nylon 6 and Nylon 12 which features reduced water absorption, commonly featured in subsea applications.”
“We also offer Nylastat, an ATEX-approved material developed for the oil and gas industry in addition to mining.”
As a conductive polymer, Nylastat is suitable for anti-static applications. As oil or gas flows through a pipeline, it can generate static electricity. The charge will remain in the pipeline and, under the right system, can create an electrical arc that could ignite any hydrocarbons present.
Nylacast’s polymers are typically one seventh the weight of steel and offer an increased lifespan through reduced maintenance and replacement. The reduced maintenance costs and lower handling and installation costs for larger items result in typically lower whole life costs.
Even when applied to relatively small pieces, that large a weight reduction begins to add up.
“If you are saving a seventh the weight on a typical thruster nozzle for an ROV, which may have four in total,” Junaid said, “overall it adds up to a significant weight saving, making the ROV more agile in operation and easier to deploy and lift, so the low weight characteristic of Nylacast polymers offers great advantage.
“This is then coupled with corrosion resistance, so the materials need no cathodic protection, coating, painting or regular maintenance in that sense.
“So, in terms of longevity of the product, you have greatly reduced, if not eliminated, maintenance need on a product which delivers greater performance.
“There is also the wear resistance and self-lubrication element of the materials, which through development feature internal lubricants.
“Dependent on the material grade, it features an internal solid or liquid lubricant. As the product works away in the application, the internal lubricants begin to provide wear and abrasion resistance. In terms of maintenance, there’s no need for costly and often polluting additional grease, lubricants or maintenance need,” Junaid added.
Whilst the price for Nylacast engineered products depends on the specific component or project, the whole life cost of the application, when considered, is often much lower.
Nylacast has been involved in a number of major projects from the North Sea and Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) through to the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. It is also delving into new areas.
“We are building strong, long-lasting relationships with a lot of key clients who are major players on the global stage,” Junaid said.
“The oil and gas sector is now in recovery and Nylacast are very much a part of this new and transforming sector.”