It is sometimes the case that engineering companies can surpass their own ability to check their own output. Such was the case with an Italian company following a £22 million press refurbishment project.
Four new barrels up to 25cm thick needed to be pressure tested to 630 Bar, but, despite being a machining company able to manufacture these high specification units, our Italian friends did not have the in-house facilities to fully test them safely and so turned to The Cylinder Service Centre for help.
To run the test would require holding the barrels in a jig strong enough to withstand, with a comfortable safety factor, the 1500 tonnes of force generated. Clearly consequences would be catastrophic should anything go wrong.
As a general rule, we would design such a rig to withstand more than twice the required load to give the required safety margin, but for this project we needed more assurance than just calculations - we had no room for pre-testing, or any type of prototype build.
To tackle this we began by creating several designs and running each through a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to examine the stresses so we could fine tune the final design of the jig - the addition of a central pin, and the position of the three pins shown in the picture being a result of this analysis.
The final design required no fixing to the barrel under test, so the barrels could be held without welding, or fasteners and so were not altered for the test, or damaged during it.
Weighing between 8 and 9 tonnes the barrels were not exactly easy to handle and additional safety precautions were taken during the test. However, all four units passed the testing and were certified and shipped out to their final destination.
A challenging job without a doubt, but one that was also well within our own safety margins and the skills, knowledge and abilities of our in-house design and engineering team.