Modern drill pipe is made from the welding of at least three separate pieces: box tool joint, pin tool joint, and the tube. The green tubes are received by the drill pipe manufacturer from the steel mill. The ends of the tubes are then upset to increase the cross-sectional area of the ends. The tube end may be externally upset (EU), internally upset (IU), or internally and externally upset (IEU). Standard max upset dimensions are specified in API 5DP, but the exact dimensions of the upset are proprietary to the manufacturer. After upsetting, the tube then goes through a heat-treating process. Drill pipe steel is commonly quenched and tempered to achieve high yield strengths (135 ksi is a common tube yield strength).
The tool joints (connectors) are also received by the manufacturer as green tubes. After a quench and temper heat treat, the tool joints are cut into box (female) and pin (male) threads. Tool joints are commonly 120 ksi SMYS, rather than the 135 ksi of the tube. They generally are stiffer than the tube, increasing the likelihood of fatigue failure at the junction. The lower SMYS on the connection increases the fatigue resistance. Higher strength steels are typically harder and more brittle, making them more susceptible to cracking and subsequent stress crack propagation.
Tubes and tool joints are welded using rotary inertia or direct drive friction welding. The tube is held stationary while the tool joint is revolved at high RPMs. The tool joint is the firmly pressed onto the upset end of the tube while the tool joint is rotating. The heat and force during this interaction weld the two together. Once the “ram horns” or excess material is removed, the weld line can only be seen under a microscope. Inertia friction welding is the traditional proven method. Direct drive friction welding is controlled and monitored up to 1000 times a second, resulting in a fine quality weld that does not necessarily need a full heat treat quench and temper regime.
TGEC start to produce drill pipe using green pipe in a separated factory. We equipped our factory with the required facilities and machinery as following: