IPI Inflatable Packer Technology

Made Differently – Perform Better

IPI inflatable packers have their origin in being independently developed in Perth in the 1980’s. The construction method is different to the conventional oilfield inflatable packer, giving different performance characteristics which has enabled IPI to displace oilfield style packers in non oilfield markets.

The principle high performance characteristic of IPI’s packer technology are also significant for oil and gas operations, for which IPI inflatables are now available:

  • Complete / almost complete recovery on deflation. This enables multi set packers to be run with much tighter annular clearance, and therefore at higher pressures, eg 7.5” OD elements in 8.5” open hole [an oilfield example], or even as tight as 89mm OD elements in 96mm open hole [a mining example- with operating pressures to 15,000psi].
  • More multi set cycles. This decreases with temperature, but to get more than 100 sets at operations <100 OC is typical. In some applications, this can be several hundred cycles. Like for like comparative DST operations suggest in excess of 5 times the “life” compared to conventional braided wire reinforced oilfield packers.
  •  Greater conformity with open hole well profile – probably best illustrated with the packers capability of coping with ovality – IPI packers manage this extremely well due to the different nature of their high density fine wire reinforcement.

IPI Inflatable Packer in oval test pipe


Conventional oil and gas inflatable packers typically have un-bonded layers of cable and woven reinforcement, or slats, that have poor recovery and low multi cycle capability. IPI inflates have a bonded composite of wire with a suitable elastomer type.

IPI packer technology, with innovative and practical tools, has now been developed and is available for mainstream oil and gas, as more recently packers can now operate to 150 OC (300 OF) and 15,000 psi (not concurrent) and the “envelope” is still being pushed outwards. Please note that at higher temperatures (100 OC - 150 OC) (210 OF to 300 OF) and pressures, this performance does significantly fall off.

Packer cross section

Typical cross-section of an IPI inflatable packer. The bonded construction format is different to more conventional oilfield inflatable packers.

IPI’s inflatable packer technology has many advantages for the rapid development of custom made applications. Packers:

  • can have several layers of reinforcement,
  • can have a customised ID and OD,
  • can use a variety of elastomers (NR,NBR,HNBR),
  • can be readily modified for specific inflation formats (e.g. to a physical OD limit, teardrop shape or with a “waist”) and/or include inserts for injection or sampling,
  • can be inward inflating, suitable for applications such as inflatable seals,
  • are designed by experienced and qualified engineers using IPI proprietary CAD software, which accurately defines the pressure / expansion envelope for that design, and
  • are manufactured by IPI using:

o  its own 3rd generation precision build up machines and in house autoclave,

o  in house CNC lathes for machining standard or customised threaded ferrules and other steel components,

o  SolidWorks™ CAD software,

o  Australian qualified tradesmen – most of who qualified from apprenticeship at IPI.

This is a unique set of competences that has led IPI to become the world’s single largest custom made inflatable packer specialist.

IPI’s depth of operational experience with inflatable packers, and manufacturing skills, have also led to many practical product designs that deliver tremendous value for money in both custom made and standard products.

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