Pressure Vessel design at KW Designed Solutions Ltd

We spoke with the Engineering Manager of KW Designed Solutions Ltd, Russell Bannerman, to find out why they use SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD and PDM.

Based in Chorley, Lancashire, KW Designed Solutions Ltd specialise in designing, manufacturing and installing bespoke pressure vessels for high pressure testing and simulating harsh subsea environments. We caught up with Engineering Manager, Russell Bannerman, to find out how KW use a range of SOLIDWORKS products to design and promote their impressive pressure vessels.

Hi Russell, how long have you been using SOLIDWORKS at KW Designed Solutions Ltd?

We’ve been using SOLIDWORKS since 2005, but we were creating 2D drawings using AutoCAD for about a year before that. We switched to SOLIDWORKS quite quickly, because we saw the potential of 3D CAD, and, following a short trial, decided SOLIDWORKS was the obvious choice for us. We found it really simple to set up, intuitive to use and we’d also noticed many of our competitors using it, so it was a no-brainer!

How does SOLIDWORKS fit into your design process?

We use SOLIDWORKS from very early on at the engineering stage, where we’re building quotes and putting BOM’s together. We use SOLIDWORKS to do a rough design that gives our application engineers a sense of scale that they can use to quote and our customers get a sense of the solution they’re likely to receive in its basic form. Once the customer has agreed to move forward, we can start to put together the 3D model of all the technical components using SOLIDWORKS to dimension up in detail all the features. We use it particularly for simulating motion for the more complex closures to find any interference’s and check tolerances on quick acting closures that we use to lock and unlock the pressure vessels.

We use SOLIDWORKS PDM for our data storage and management, which has been superb. It’s allowed us to share files across our teams, which is especially helpful when working remotely, as we are at the moment. Ultimately we’ve been able to keep all of our data stored centrally at the office and users can check in out so they can be sure that nobody’s working on the same files, potentially overwriting work, etc.

Left: Mark Henderson, Sales & Commercial Director. Right: Michael Kay, Managing Director


Another thing that we’ve used quite heavily is SOLIDWORKS Visualize. We can generate really good photorealistic renders based on our SOLIDWORKS models which we use to create datasheets and customer facing documentation such as brochures. We’ve won orders on the back of being able to demonstrate the functionality of our equipment, how something moves and how it will interact with another part, for example. Our customers understand exactly what they are going to get and how it will work when they get it. This is far better than anything you can do with static images or thousands of words to describe something – when you can show clients exactly how a specific part will work in 3D they jump at the chance to buy it! Our salesmen wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are currently without it, that’s for sure.


What have KW Designed Solutions Ltd been working on recently?

We recently completed work on a 2500 Litre vessel for a customer in Italy that goes up to 500 bar in pressure and features a KWik-Lok closure. This comprises of a set of 12 chocks that can be actuated from one central activator. We used SOLIDWORKS to model it up before we moved on to virtually test actions and motions to check for fit. We then built it into the customer’s building as you can see below.


KW Designed Solutions Ltd
KW’s KWik-Lok closure mechanism


KW Designed Solutions Ltd
The customer’s building model with the KW Designed Solutions pressure vessel inside


The biggest challenge on this project was simulating the motions on the KWik-Lok closure, which was approximately 1.2 metres in diameter. The actuated chock geometry was quite complex and we needed to simulate the action of moving in and out, trying to hit tolerances of about 0.5 millilitres.


KW Designed Solutions Ltd


We used SOLIDWORKS to put together the full linkage mechanism, including the actuator and all of the support pieces. Then from that, we could check for general interference and simulated the motion of the chocks by moving them in and out, checking that they were moving from start to finish correctly.

Why did KW Designed Solutions Ltd choose to work with Innova Systems?

Whenever we’ve had any issues, we can call The Innova Systems support team and get rapid if not instant¬†support with no waiting in queues. We’ve been chuffed with the support from you guys and to this day I can honestly say that we wouldn’t go anywhere else for our 3D CAD software. SOLIDWORKS has all the capabilities that we need to keep on designing and manufacturing our bespoke pressure vessels for our clients and we know we have solid support from everyone at Innova Systems.

To find out more about the work that KW Designed Solutions Ltd do, head on over to their website now.

To find out how SOLIDWORKS can help you, call us on 01223 200690, or send us a message below.

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