CAD software from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. (DS SolidWorks) is helping U.K.-based pipeline company Wellstream International Limited design customized flexible pipelines capable of moving with ocean waves and currents, yet strong enough to contain thousands of gallons of oil and gas pumped at high pressure.
Wellstream manufactures its pipelines from a combination of concentric layers of metallic wires, extruded plastics and tapes. Offshore, crews lay Wellstream pipelines by installing them from a reel like they would a cable. The flexible pipelines adapt to the seabed’s shape more easily than rigid pipe, and provide a high-integrity connection to floating production vessels.
Support equipment such as clamps, end fittings, fixings and hang-offs -- also designed in SolidWorks® 3D CAD software – join pipeline segments to each other, to pumps and production vessels. Engineers at Wellstream's Newcastle upon Tyne facility use SolidWorks to specially design each pipeline and its supporting structures to customers' specific needs, then simulate how the pipeline will perform once it's deployed.
"Subsea oil and gas flowlines must be reliable and often have design lives in excess of 20 years. The fit between elements must be perfect and every component has to satisfy stress and fatigue requirements," said David Hunt, a structural design engineer at Wellstream. "We use SolidWorks software to create designs and SolidWorks Simulation to perform stress assessments. I create a 3D model, apply loads to determine stresses, and use SolidWorks Simulation and the analysis capabilities built into the CAD software to perform analysis on specific components. It's very quick to build the models, run the tests, and figure out the pipeline's behavior in more detail."
Engineers in a wide range of industries use SolidWorks CAD and SolidWorks Simulation software to create products such as Wellstream pipelines, whose outward simplicity belies the sophisticated design underneath.
"A pipeline sounds like a simple structure to a layman, but when you understand the forces and harsh environments it has to endure, not to mention what it takes to get them in place, you realize what unique works of engineering they are," said Simon Booker, SolidWorks European Marketing Manager. "We've designed our software with innovative companies like Wellstream in mind. The ability to design and simulate a product in a single environment speeds the pace of innovation. Wellstream demonstrates that every time it customizes a pipeline to a customer's exact specifications."
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