3D printing technology is gradually finding practical applications in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s latest thematic report.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has emerged as one of the key enabling technologies in driving industrial productivity.
The oil and gas industry has shown slow but steady adoption of this technology in recent years. Initially, 3D printing technology was largely limited to polymer-based products. However, recent advancements in metal-based 3D printing are making this technology more relevant to the oil and gas sector.
The key benefit of 3D printing lies in its ability to reduce the time taken to produce complex prototypes. However, 3D printers can also lower the time needed to manufacture fully functional products for use in operations.
Due to stricter environmental norms, volatile oil prices and ever-increasing competition, companies are gravitating towards complex equipment designs to achieve operational efficiency. The ability to produce the complex components, which are otherwise difficult to manufacture, is turning 3D printing into a must-have technology.
The process of 3D printing is additive, making it possible to manufacture products in a single step, without the need to produce different parts to be assembled later, thereby reducing production time. Further, the additive approach can help in producing more rugged and sturdy equipment. This gives it a competitive edge over traditional manufacturing processes and also improves material use by reducing waste.
Lengthy procurement processes for obtaining spare parts often compel companies to maintain extraordinarily high inventory levels. This increases warehousing costs and puts companies at risk of stockpiling redundant components. 3D printing technology can address this by enabling companies to quickly manufacture parts as needed.
Oil and gas companies are seeing a reduction in the overall costs of supply chain management by using 3D printing, and its adoption can also help companies enhance their operational efficiencies and foster growth.
In the oil and gas industry, BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, and Woodside are among the leading adopters of 3D printing. Besides these, several oil and gas solutions providers such as GE Oil & Gas, Siemens Energy, Halliburton have also started incorporating 3D printing in their operations.
Leading oil and gas and technology companies involved in 3D printing