What is Fracking and How does it Work?

Fracking is a slang term for hydraulic fracturing, a process that maximizes the output of natural gas and oil wells to make them productive.

How does hydraulic fracturing work?

When a well is fractured, an operator pumps a mixture of water, sand and a small amount
of chemicals into an oil or gas formation deep underground and applies pressure. The pressure fractures rock layers, releasing oil or gas reserves. The sand holds the fractures open to continue allowing the oil or gas to flow into the well.

Illustration---Fracking-01

As gas or oil comes to the well head under pressure, it brings with it the fracturing water that was pumped, along with natural brines that are present in the deeper layers of the earth. That “flowback” water is separated from the gas and oil at the surface, contained in steel tanks, and sent to deep injection wells for disposal.

Is hydraulic fracturing new?

No. Gas and oil operators have been using hydraulic fracturing around the country since it’s invention by George Mitchell in the late 1940s. (See article link below)

One popular method for creating fractures is the use of frac ports and sliding sleeves. Open hole packers isolate different sections of the horizontal well. A sliding sleeve is placed between each packer pair and is opened by injecting a ball inside the borehole. Typically, a completion string is placed inside the well. The string includes frac ports and open hole packers spaced to specifications.

Frac balls, typically made from an Engineering Plastic, are critical components in cutting edge downhole tooling used in hydraulic fracturing operations. Typically when creating multiple fractures in a wellbore, a completion string is placed inside the borehole with frac ports and sliding sleeves spaced between each section. In order to actuate each sleeve a properly sized frac ball is pumped along with the fracturing fluid inside the well.

Each ball is smaller than the opening in each of the previous sleeves but larger than the hole in the sleeve it is intended to open. The ball shall seat within the sleeve, closing the hole and exerting pressure to slide open the sleeve, opening the frac ports. Once the ports are open the fracturing fluid is diverted to the open hole space outside of the completion assembly causing the surrounding formation to fracture.

At the completion of each fracturing stage, the next sized ball is injected into the well causing the next sleeve to open and so on until all of the sleeves are open and multiple fractures are created within the well. The main advantages of this process being the speed with which the well can be penetrated hence reducing cost.

Engineering Plastics used in Hydraulic Fracturing

  • PEEK
  • TORLON®
  • G10-G11-FR4
  • DuPont™ Vespel®

The Engineering Plastics listed above are commonly found in seals, bushings, thrust washers, back-up rings, and logging tools. Many have properties that provide longer wear and high temperature resistance than more traditional materials.

As in nearly all industries today,  Engineered Plastics are becoming widely accepted as a solution to  bearing and wear issues. The oil and gas industry is no exception.  Engineered Plastics have been found to alleviate  some headaches in the extreme conditions the oil and gas industry meets when drilling deeper to tap into new resources.

Kendall Montague

National Sales Manager Oil & Gas
Thyssenkrupp Materials NA AIN Plastics Division

Connect with me on LinkedIn

 

Links to Related Items:

Animation of Baker Hughes completion and frac ball application. Frac Ball Application by Baker Hughes

Related Article: George Mitchell – The Inventor of Fracking 

ThyssenKrupp Materials NA AIN Plastics Division is a sponsor of the Energy Rubber Group

 

Engineering Plastics use Grows in Food Processing Equipment

iStock_000014977093LargeEngineering Plastics continue to replace metals as key components in food processing equipment. Plastics are often lighter and able to outlast traditional metal parts. A quick look through the variety of plastics available in today’s market shows an increasing number of engineering plastics that are compliant to FDA, USDA, 3A Dairy standards making them available in applications where they will come into direct contact with food. They are also being chosen for their
ability to create a quieter work environment.

With 2014 looking to be a great year for Food Processing equipment sales I wanted to share what we most find in food processing applications and why.

UHMW
UHMW continues to lead the way (by pounds sold in the United States) in the transformation from metal to plastic parts.  For more information on materials sold in the U.S. see this article by the American Chemical Council. Compared to steel UHMW is just 1/7th the weight. In addition UHMW is corrosion resistant. UHMW is a great option for room temperature applications like guides, paddles, and cutting surfaces.  Recent advances include the introduction of metal detectable versions that can be recognized by your detection systems in line.

Nylons
For bearing and wear applications, Nylon materials have been the workhorse for over 30 years.  Like UHMW, Nylon is also light weight, and provides lubrication – free operation making it a great material for producing bearings or bushings.  Gears and sprockets made of Nylon have been popular because they can reduce noise in work areas. They can also improve the efficiency of production lines conveying food and liquids in your plants by lasting longer than metals, which reduces downtime, and by allowing lines to run faster.

Acetals
For many components, Acetal is the best choice for metal replacement, and we find its popularity is growing quickly in the food processing industry.  Acetal (Delrin Homopolymer or CoPolymer brands like Acetron GP and Celcon) are very easy to machine, and their very low moisture absorption rates make them a good choice for the often wet environment of food processing.  Acetals are harder than Nylons and maintain dimensional stability where Nylons tend to be more flexible. In many applications Acetals can handle continuous use temperatures up to 210° F and they are typically compatible with most cleaning solutions, a huge plus in the food processing industry.

ERTALYTE®
A popular speciality material is Quadrant Engineering Plastics Ertalyte material.  Ertalyte has unique properties that allow it to wear like Acetal in wet environments and like Nylon in dry or unlubricated environments.  I like to think of it as giving you the best of both worlds! Ertalyte also is highly resistant to stains generated by things like tomato based sauces and green vegetables.  Ertalyte also has high dimensional stability that meets the demands of the highly precise machining tolerances required in filling pistons and fluid manifolds.

In looking to the future of food processing the demands are heavy. Companies are working hard to keep consumer prices in line while still making a profit. Food processing companies are achieving these goals by improving efficiency and creating better work environments. Plastics are an increasingly big part of the solution because their use in parts can improve line speeds, decrease maintenance downtime, and even make for a quieter work environment.

As I look at the Engineering Plastics and High Performance Materials we have here at AIN Plastics I’m pleased to see how they are being used to improve the food processing industry and I’m excited to see the new applications our customers are working on as well as the new materials our suppliers are always working on. If you have an application you’ve been scratching your head over, give us a call. We know there are lots of options and we can help you take some of the guess work out of finding out if Engineering Plastics are right for your application.

Paul Hanson

Sales and Marketing Manager
DuPont Vespel®
ThyssenKrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division

email: paul.hanson@thyssenkrupp.com

For more information on Engineering Plastics visit http://www.tkmna.com/tkmna/Products/Plastics/Engineering/index.html

A Little Acrylic Helps a Scout Become an Eagle Scout

AIN Plastics, a Division of ThyssenKrupp Materials NA. It sounds huge doesn’t it? Well, it is. ThyssenKrupp Materials NA is part of a global company that includes divisions for aerospace, elevators, materials services and much more. But there is also a local side to all of this. AIN Plastics Division has local branches throughout the U.S. and each of those branches provides materials across the U.S. but just as often, they do within their local community. Sales reps are in each area assisting customers personally, and of course these are the communities we live our lives in. Although we do projects and events that the entire company takes part in, our local branches don’t stop at that and say good enough. AIN Plastics  local branches, like many local businesses  enjoy doing events to help improve the community they are a part of. Whether it’s helping out the local school robotics team, donating time at the local food bank, or doing a roadside beautification project, you will find our branches are out getting together and doing things to make a difference in their community.

Recently I was talking with Terry Tewell, Branch Manager for AIN Plastics in Lancaster, PA about a potential new project. As we talked he also shared a project his team helped with earlier this year. Terry said it was a donation of materials, but what really struck the whole team was what it really meant to donate clear acrylic to a young Boy Scout and all that one simple act to us meant to him. Below is the letter the AIN Plastics Lancaster team received back from now Eagle Scout, Derian Erb.

Dear AIN Plastics,

On May 8th, 2013 I was awarded the Rank of Eagle Scout. I would like to personally than you for your donation of three sheets of pled- glass. Without it, my project would not have been completed. As you can see; along with your donation, it took 5 months and over 230 man hours to build and install 2 information kiosks at the Blue Rock Boat Launch along the Susquehanna River.

The purpose of my project was to build information kiosks along the Susquehanna River to assist boaters, hunters, fishermen, and bird enthusiasts in providing updated changes in the PA laws regarding the use of the river for fish and fowl in connection with the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

Because of your donation, support of Boy Scouts and a belief in me and this project, what I learned is immeasurable. This experience has taught me the full extent of how to manage a complete project plan from start to finish. Even though you do projects in High School, nothing can prepare you for the workload of this. At the time I was the Senior Patrol Leader (the highest leadership position in my Troop) and thought I knew how to lead. Boy was I wrong, my confidence, leadership and communication skills (which in my mind were good) greatly developed over the course of guidance, writing a check, writing and mailing a formal letter, soliciting donations and hosting fundraisers, project labor, and lastly; I greatly improved my ability of talking over the phone. I learned a lot throughout this project which I know helped prepare to better me in life.

 

Thank you for your support,

Sincerely Yours in Scouting,

Darian Erb, Eagle Scout – Troop 267

 

Photo---Erb-Eagle-Scout-11-13Photo---Erb-Eagle-Scout-02-11-13

It’s great to do big events. But I’m happy to be part of a company that also values the local side of life and the the things we can do in our individual communities that might make a big difference for someone in their life. Best wishes to Eagle Scout, Derian Erb. We know you have a great future ahead of you!

 

See you in the blogosphere again soon!

Lisa Anderson

Marketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division

 

How Sales Reps Help You Find the Right Plastic Material

Have you set down with a plastics sales person only to find your sales rep hits

you with question after question about your application? Why is that?

More Questions? I just want some plastic!

More Questions? I just want some plastic!

Good sales people will ask probing questions about what you need, but in our busy days this may sometimes seem annoying or even invasive to a customer.  If you’ve ever wondered “why is this sales person all up in my business, I just need some plastic,” rest assured there is often a valid reason for all those questions, not just nosiness on the part of your sales rep.

Some terms are standard to a market or industry; others may be subjective or open to interpretation.  Just like a game of catch phrase two people may describe the same thing but in a different way.  In this series of blog posts I’m going to address some frequent questions and terms; not as a vocabulary lesson but rather a basic overview as a communication tool to help when talking to a plastics sales representative.

Plastics-Triangle

The plastics triangle gives an overview of the basic types of plastics. For more about plastic types click here.

Plastics may often look and feel alike, but, in reality, there are nearly as many different varieties and formulations of plastics as there are uses of them.  A benefit of purchasing from a distributor is that they stock hundreds of types of plastics from numerous manufactures in their facilities so one of the things a sales rep can do is to help customers pin point which plastic it is they really need.

 

Question and Answer is the simplest form of two-way communication.

One of the best ways to identify the material a user needs is by asking questions, in particular regarding the application.  Often this will narrow down the possibilities tremendously.  The material request that probably makes anyone in the polymer/plastics business cringe most is- “You know it’s plastic, just the regular kind.”  By inquiring as to the intended use of the item (application) a competent sales person can at least direct the customer to a category of materials from which to choose.

Questions that help select the right plastic material…
What is the intended use of this plastic material?

Is the application Static or Dynamic?
Is the application Structural or Wear?
These are all snazzy terms used to define if an item is going to be stationary/immobile or if it will be moving.  The answer to this question will likely lead toward one of two classifications of thermoplastics; Amorphous or Crystalline. Looking at structural vs. wear means looking at the stress or friction a part might be under when its in use.

Friction is the resistance that one surface encounters when moving along another surface. A part that does not move, may still come into contact with one that does (mating parts or rollers are good examples). The friction may cause wear and it can also be a source of increased heat.

A particular set of properties might be more or less crucial to a given application, we do not engineer said applications but rather give you the best tools and guidance to do so!

Lin Poulin
Telemarketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division

 

Citations for this blog post:

American Chemistry Council.  Professor Plastic: How Many Type of Plastics are There?  Post 2012/01/ Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products. Design and Fabrication Reference Guide
Ensinger. Ensinger essentials, Technical know-how for plastic applications
International Association of Plastic Distributors. IAPD, Introduction to Plastics, a Training Manual

AIN Plastics “Get Framed” Event

IMG_0176

The Gabarron Center for the Arts in Manhattan was the site for the AIN Plastics “Get Framed” event.

Gabarron Carriage House Center for the Arts in Manhattan is not the place you might typically think of to go to when you want to find out about plastics, but on June 6, 2013 this Manhattan Art Gallery hosted the unveiling of a very special piece of acrylic at the AIN Plastics “Get Framed Event.”
Evonik ACRYLITE® OP3 with UV protection in a 101 x 150 inch 1/4 inch thick sheet is the largest UV sheet manufactured in the U.S. and it is the perfect material for large pieces of art or items in need of preservation and display. The AIN team has fondly named it “The Monster Sheet.” John Colleluori, Branch Manager for AIN Plastics Yonkers stated this ACRYLITE® material is available exclusively from AIN Plastics, and it is so special that we felt it deserved a true New York Gallery unveiling. AIN Plastics will stock these sheets for easy delivery to museums, galleries and preservation specialists. AIN Plastics President, John Shepherd noted, “Our unique product offering combined with the high service requirements of this industry makes it an attractive and profitable market for AIN’s distribution model.”
Over 80 people from the New York gallery, framing, and museum industry gathered at Gabarron Carriage House Center for the Arts and enjoyed an evening of hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Evonik brought in key specialists and provided educational demonstrations for guests. Werner Mashig, Evonik Product Manager for Lighting demonstrated ACRYLITE® LED material, an innovative way to illuminate art and photos with the use of ACRYLITE® LED. Using a simple channel frame with a single strip of LEDs placed at the edge of ACRYLITE® LED, images measuring up to 39″ can be uniformly illuminated. Evonik’s Bud Frega – was demonstrating the advantages of ACRYLITE® Optical mar resistant acrylic which is also chemical resistant so it can be cleaned with common household cleaners such as Windex®. Also at his table was ACRYLITE® non-glare (P99) which minimizes glare and reflection at any angle and ACRYLITE® framing grade (FF3) which is our premier acrylic glazing product guaranteed to be defect free. Evonik Adhesive specialist Andy Baumler was on hand demonstrating ACRYLITE® UV filtering (OP3) to show how ACRYLITE® provides the highest protection against damaging UV light as compared to other UV acrylics. Using a blacklight and two identical photos, the non ACRYLITE® photo was brighter indicating saturation of harmful UV rays while the ACRYLITE® side remained dark, showing a higher level of UV protection. Andy also spoke about ACRIFIX® Specialty Bonding Agents including solvent and reactive cements. In addition he was speaking about ACRIFIX® AC1010 which is a specially formulated cleaner that eliminates static charge.
John Collelouri noted the entire “Get Framed Event” was a collaboration brought about by the strategic partnership between AIN Plastics and Evonik CYRO. “We could not have created such a fantastic and successful event without the support of the entire branch staff, our marketing department and without our strategic partners at Evonik CYRO.” Antoinette Spages, Laura Torsiello and Kanika Mohal helped with finding the venue and lining up the presenters while Lisa Anderson developed marketing materials and promoted the event on our social media. Carolyn Hayduk assisted with gifts for event attendees. The entire Yonkers team dedicated themselves to delivering personal invitations created in Evonik CYRO acrylic Blue P-95 just for the event.
The evening provided an excellent opportunity for building new and stronger relationships with customers by providing education and a first hand look at the materials in use as well as the opportunity to ask questions and talk with industry professionals. It also provided a great opportunity to build a stronger relationship with an already strong strategic partner, Evonik CYRO.

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See you in the blogosphere again soon!

Lisa Anderson

Marketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division

 

To learn more about all the ACRYLITE® materials available through AIN Plastics visit the Sheet Plastics section of our website. You can also talk to someone directly by calling 877.246.7700.

www.tkmna.com

Machined or Molded Plastic Parts – What Are the Differences?

A plastic part by any other name would still be a plastic part, wouldn’t it? Yes it would. But the way those plastic parts produced; either by molding plastic parts or by machining plastic parts are dramatically different. Those differences in the process of making plastic parts can result in big differences in lead times, cost, and quality. Below are things to consider when looking at how to manufacture plastic parts and some answers that may help you to decide.

How Many Plastic Parts do you Need to Make?

MOLDED: Molded Plastic parts have been around since the first machine for the process was patented in 1872 by John Wesley Hyatt and his brother Isaiah so its easy to see how this became one of the standard processes for creating plastic parts. Mold machines are used to run mass produced plastic parts from tooth brushes to auto parts and everything in-between. Creation of the mold(s) costs thousands of dollars, requires time up front to make the mold(s) and the molds require maintenance over their life and storage when not in use.

MACHINED: Depending on the project, volumes from 25 to 5,000 parts can often be machined more cost effectively than molded. For small parts, you may have a lower final cost by using high performance screw machines that can run circles around expensive multi-cavity molds. This means shorter lead times than molded parts and little up front cost. Machined parts don’t require secondary machining to clean a part once it is ejected from the mold.

Will You Need to Make Changes to Your Part Design?

MOLDED: Parts made from molds require that the mold be made first which is more time and expense up front. In addition a mold will require maintenance over it’s service life and storage space when it isn’t in use. Changes to a mold are costly in terms of time and dollars to either change or make a new mold, depending on the changes needed.

MACHINED: Machined parts allow for shorter lead times and flexibility in making design changes because they are run directly from a CAD file. Overall, machining can be used to create very complex parts including parts with undercuts and thick walls and the materials are more homogenous across the length and width of the part.

How Important Are Tight Tolerances and Dimensional Stability?

MOLDED: Every plastic behaves differently. But in general plastic parts made from molds may not be as dimensionally stable as machined parts. There is more chance the parts will not be as homogeneous across the length and width of a part. The molding process is not ideal for large parts or where there are thick walls. Tolerances of +/- .005″ are typically the best that can be achieved in molded parts. This compares to +/- .001″ for machined parts.

MACHINED: Many of today’s high performance engineering plastics, such as DuPont Vespel, PEEK, PBI or others can take extreme temperatures of 250 or even 450 degrees and remain dimensionally stable. Many of these materials are also chemical resistant. Additionally machined parts have less internal stress and tolerances of +/- .001″ or better can be achieved.

How Large or Complex Are Your Parts?

MOLDED: Small to mid-size plastic parts can work well. Large volumes can be run fast. But large plastic parts with thick walls, or complicated undercuts can be an issue for mold design. Materials cooling at different  temperatures within a mold can result in more internal stress and a less homogeneous material. Undercuts can pose a mold design challenge with how to release the part from the mold. Plastic parts fresh from the mold may require secondary machining to remove flash, parting lines, or ejector marks, adding to production time and cost.

MACHINED: Large parts and parts with complicated undercuts can be made quickly and efficiently by machining processes. Thick cross sections will have higher, more consistent mechanical properties. Again, because there is no mold to be made, the up front investment and lead time is much shorter. Machining also handles threading extremely well and machined parts will have no parting line, ejector marks, or flash. The availability and selection of engineering plastics means many prototypes can be made in production-equivalent materials. Plastics are more often being found to be a good alternative to metals. They can often be machined on the same equipment and many high temperature engineering plastics offer features such as lightweight, flexibility, high strength, resistance to corrosion, excellent durability, high heat tolerance and chemical resistance. Some plastics, such as those for bearings even require little or no lubrication making them even more cost effective on the service end.

The moral of this blog – a plastic part by any other name is still a plastic part but how you get to create that part could make all the difference in the world. Molded plastic parts have their place, but before going down the path of investing in molds it may be worth a little time considering the questions in this blog and determining if molded or machined is the best option.

 

See you in the blogosphere again soon!

Lisa Anderson

Marketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division

www.tkmna.com