Kongsberg Ferrotech is introducing 3D printing under water

With contribution from the Research Council of Norway, Kongsberg Ferrotech joins forces with Equinor, SINTEF, and Gassco to develop advanced 3D printing technologies for in situ, metal2metal repairs of subsea equipment. This technology could save the oil industry significant amounts if implemented and utilized.

3D printing technology will be integrated in Kongsberg Ferrotech’s Inspection, Repair and Maintenance (IMR) robot called Nautilus. Nautilus offers modern robot technology within a dry environment, enabling advanced repairs on the seabed without production shut down.

A long-term market opportunity

The underwater 3D printing technology will be used to rebuild damaged metal structures – layer by layer – and to implement new functionality as needed. This technology will be a useful tool not only for future subsea operations but also in other industries beyond the oil and gas sector.

– The rapid development of 3D printing technology is creating new opportunities and markets going forward. Combining this technology with the existing Nautilus robot opens many exciting new possibilities for subsea repairs and modifications. We are looking forward to a close collaboration with our industry partners, says Brede Lærum, head of 3D printing at Equinor.

– This is the start of a new industrial adventure that is of strategic importance to our company.  We see a large long-term market opportunity also beyond the oil and gas industry, says Christopher Carlsen, CEO at Kongsberg Ferrotech.

Nautilus – a versatile underwater robot

Nautilus is a versatile underwater robot that offers a complete toolbox for inspection and repair of equipment and their components in subsea environments. Nautilus is exceptional in the way it performs repairs and modifications in a dry environment while completely submerged. Deep water testing has been completed in the Trondheim Fjord in Norway, and the technology is ready to be deployed for commercial applications and operations.

– The collaboration with Equinor, Gassco, and SINTEF represents world-class expertise within operations of underwater installations, underwater transport systems, and research on metallic repair processes. This unique opportunity to develop underwater 3D printing is an important technology leap – not only for Kongsberg Ferrotech but also for the industry. We plan to offer service and maintenance based on 3D printing as early as 2022, says Carlsen.

The worldwide market for underwater repair is large, the Norwegian shelf alone has over 10,000 kilometres of subsea pipelines. The current solutions for underwater pipe repairs are often time consuming, expensive, and in many cases requiring production shut down.

– With the Nautilus IMR-robot we bring the workshop to the damage – not the damage to the workshop. This technology has been in development for the past five years and we will begin offering underwater composite repairs to the Southeast Asian market in Q2 2022. The worlds most advanced subsea robot gives the customer major savings in both cost and time – performed in an environmentally friendly manner – without producing discharges to the sea, Carlsen emphasizes.

Facts about the industrial cooperation

  • Kongsberg Ferrotech, Equinor, SINTEF and Gassco join forces to develop and test 3D printing as a repair method on the seabed.
  • 3D printing will be developed and implemented in an underwater robot called Nautilus. Nautilus offers a complete toolbox for repairs at sea depths up to 1500 meters.
  • The technology will open completely new opportunities and markets for repairs and modifications underwater also in other marine industries in addition to oil and gas.
  • This industrial collaboration project is supported by the Research Council of Norway through the PETROMAKS 2 program.


Facts about Nautilus

  • Nautilus is an innovative robot that delivers a complete inspection and repair of equipment and components at sea depths up to 1500 meters.
  • Today, large supply vessels, divers, and in many cases, production shut down is required to carry out maintenance of equipment on the seabed.
  • Using a closed habitat, which is emptied of water, Nautilus can carry out repairs in the most demanding environments on the seabed.
  • Nautilus represents the importance of high-tech innovation and is a contribution to an efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly industrial transformation.
  • Kongsberg Ferrotech has developed Nautilus. The IMR-robot is ready for commercialization and can carry out underwater operations with less risk, less resources, and in less time.