Using 3-D Printing for Training

3-D Printing

The Dominion Energy Transmission Measurement Engineering and Support group in Bridgeport, WV, in conjunction with Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, WV, have developed an innovative way to provide training for Gas Measurement Specialists (GMS) through 3-D Printing.

A GMS is responsible for the operations and maintenance of measurement, regulators, flow control equipment, and relief valves on the natural gas pipeline. In addition to classroom instruction, training also includes on-the-job written and hands-on instruction that is conducted for new GMS employees in the six state operating area.

“Purchasing the necessary equipment can be costly and the components are large and heavy,” said John Kinney, manager of measurement engineering & support. “That’s when we partnered with Pierpont Community and Technical College to determine if 3-D printing could create models that were lighter and cost effective and we found that it is.”

Measurement Engineering & Support partnered with the Spring 2017 Engineering Class to develop a 3-D model of a Mooney Regulator. The job of the regulator is to match natural gas flow to the demand of the pipeline system and to maintain the pipeline operating pressures that are within acceptable limits for both safe and reliable operations.

First, computer drawings of the various regulator components had to be generated and then sent to the 3-D printer to be created. The printers at Pierpont Community and Technical College are capable of printing the main parts of the regulator but some of the finer details had to be completed by the students.

“This was a challenge for the class because we had to engineer some of the related components for the regulator said Professor Jerry Bacza, Dean of Engineering Technology. “This created an entirely new aspect which meant we had to up our skill level to meet the requirements of the project and the finished product.”

The 3D Printers can create the regulator parts with a “clear” material as well as in a cutaway format so the GMS students can have a better understanding of the internal workings of the equipment. Some of the engineering students who worked on the 3-D model project will be working with Dominion Energy Transmission upon graduation.