Proven Solution: Additive Manufacturing Mining Solutions

Hydraulic Borehole Mining Case Study

August 17, 2023

Most resource deposits in the United States lie underneath the earth’s surface. Their extraction can be achieved through pre-drilled boreholes, with these minerals converted in-situ into a slurry by using high-pressure water jetting. Learn how a Kennametal additive manufacturing solution increased the run life of nozzles used in hydraulic borehole mining and enabled substantial operational savings for one operator.

The Challenge

Kinley Exploration recently experienced severe erosive wear on its nozzles, which were made from A2 tool steel that was heat-treated to 55 HRC. The recycled water used by the nozzles was considered “clean” but contained damaging particles. As the nozzles’ A2 steel suffered increased wear from particle cuts, it led to outlet expansion, a subsequent loss of water pressure, and decreased distance of the waterjet’s effectiveness. Worse, the downtime needed to replace them cost the operator $100,000 (3 hours tripping out, 2 hours tripping in at $20,000 per hour) PLUS $30,000 tooling cost per nozzle set.

  • Pressure: 2500–4500 psi
  • Flow Rate: 400–600 gallons per minute

A2 tool steel nozzle after 1 hour

The Kennametal Solution

Kennametal additive manufacturing solutions provided the operator with custom nozzles made from wear-resistant KAC89 tungsten carbide. KAC89 tungsten carbide has a high carbide content with particle size of 2.5-5 microns, which is much finer than other carbide containing additively manufactured materials using laser, electron beam irradiation (e-beam), or directed energy disposition (DED) processes. After 4 hours of use, the Kennametal nozzles experienced zero measurable wear and were able to be reused.

With KAC89 tungsten carbide, Kennametal combines the advantages of 3D printing — such as greater design flexibility and shorter lead times — with the durability of conventional carbide to produce high-performance nozzles used in hydraulic borehole mining.

  • Nozzle Grade: KAC89
  • Carbide Amount: 83%
  • Hardness (HRa): 86.2

Kennametal tungsten carbide nozzle installed

Proven Capabilities

  • Proprietary metal powders optimized for 3D printing
  • Industry leader in tungsten carbide and Stellite wear solutions
  • Design optimization and prototyping for custom-engineered components
  • Post-print processes can include sintering, heat treating, machining, and finishing
  • Production scaling to ramp up on demand

Kennametal is a long-trusted supplier to multiple industries with a reputation built on reliability. We possess nearly a century of materials expertise, and our wide-ranging additive manufacturing solutions deliver innovation, improved performance, and value to our customers.

The information contained in this report is intended for comparative purposes only and is based upon a limited test sample. The information has no guarantee of actual future results. The information is provided ‘as is’ without any warranty of any kind whether express or implied.

kinley logo

Thank you to Kinley Exploration for partnering with us on developing this solution!

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