Improving drill stabilisers with laser welding systems

Louise Davis

The oil and gas industry remains at the heart of our energy production with facilities spanning the globe. Extracting these valuable resources, however, requires extensive drilling, sometimes to depths of thousands of feet. This places great demands on the equipment used to perform the drilling operations, subsequently leading to an ongoing requirement for maintenance and repair to essential components such as drill stabilisers.

What are drill stabilisers?

Drill stabilisers are an important part of the equipment used in the bottom hole assembly of a drill string. As the name suggests, their function is to mechanically stabilise the drill assembly within the borehole, enhancing the service life of the drill bit, avoiding deviation from the intended path and maintaining the quality of the hole being drilled. Although there are various types of stabiliser, they usually comprise a main body and stabilising blades, generally manufactured from high-grade steel, with the blades hard-faced for wear resistance.

As one might imagine, when in use these vital and high-value components can sustain considerable wear from abrasion and therefore require re-working to once again build up the protective hard abrasive resistant materials. Traditional methods of repairing these important components include welding and plasma transfer arc systems, however, the latest generation of fibre lasers from manufacturer Alpha Laser bring a new and highly efficient dimension to metal cladding/deposition and hardening applications.

Fibre lasers repairing drill stabilisers

Lasers are at work in almost every sphere of manufacturing sectors so it’s no surprise, therefore, to find them playing a key role in the manufacture and repair of components for the oil and gas sector.

The fibre lasers used in Alpha Laser’s AL-TW, AL-Flak and AL-Rock laser systems deliver the high power (450/900W) required for laser powder deposition welding, a process that offers a wide range of benefits for applications such as the repair of drill stabilisers.

The laser makes it possible to quickly and efficiently coat even large surface areas with powder deposit welding on high-value components that require repair or reconditioning. Unlike some alternative technologies, the localised and controlled heat affected zone produced by the laser does not impact the mechanical properties of the surrounding material. This also ensures that component distortion is avoided. In addition, the repeatability and precision of the process guarantees consistent quality on each and every part.

Laser welding systems from Alpha Laser

Alpha Laser has a range of systems that have been proven for laser welding and that can also be used as powder coating systems. The AL-TW is an open system that provides the highest levels of flexibility within a workshop environment. The high levels of stability allow the precision focusing required to achieve the best results at all times. The AL-Flak is an extremely robust laser welding system with high laser power and a large reach.

The innovative movement mechanism and the projecting laser arm make it possible to work easily on large components, either manually or in programmed mode.

The AL-Rock also boasts high laser power and a large reach. The combination of the ability to move the system under its own power, the articulated robot arm, plus the system’s 3D scanning head makes it possible to easily work on large components, performing either deposit welding or hardening processes in three dimensions. The area to be processed can be easily programmed, using the scanner software, by simply selecting the area that the user wishes to scan.

The robot then moves the scanner automatically to the marked area over multiple tracks. The result is a real-time 3D model. The operator then simply configures the process-relevant parameters, after which the program is simulated virtually.

andy Toms is director of TLM laser


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