The use of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is gradually growing in the oil and gas industry. Currently accounting for less than 0.1% of the global manufacturing market, which is currently valued at $12.7 trillion, the 3D printing market is estimated to reach $32 billion by 2025 and over 60 billion by 2030, according to data and analytics company Global data.
GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘3D printing in oil and gas‘, states that 3D printing has become one of the key enabling technologies to boost industrial productivity. Over the years, 3D printing technology has become prevalent in different industries and has significantly influenced automotive and aerospace manufacturing. In the oil and gas sector, some of the applications of the technology include manufacturing spare parts on site, testing new product designs, and simplifying inventory management to reduce costs.
Ravindra Puranik, oil and gas analyst at GlobalData, comments:
“The oil and gas industry has slowly but steadily adopted 3D printing in recent years. Initially, this technology was largely limited to polymer-based products. However, recent advances in metal-based 3D printing make this technology more relevant to the oil and gas industry.
What are the benefits of 3D printing for oil and gas?
The main advantage of 3D printing technology is the reduction in the time required to produce complex prototypes. 3D printers can also reduce the time it takes to manufacture functional products for use in operations.
“Due to stricter environmental standards, volatile oil prices and ever-increasing competition, companies are turning to complex equipment designs to achieve operational efficiency. The ability to produce complex components, otherwise impossible to manufacture using conventional processes, makes 3D printing a must-have technology.
In the industrial field, 3D printing mainly improves the speed of product manufacturing and addresses the challenges associated with producing prototypes during the development of new products, regardless of the design complexities. The 3D printing process is additive in nature, allowing products to be manufactured in fewer steps, and sometimes even eliminating the need to assemble different parts together. This possibly reduces the time of availability of the desired product.
“The additive approach to manufacturing can help produce stronger and more robust equipment. Thus, 3D printing technology provides a competitive advantage over traditional manufacturing processes and also improves material utilization.
Concretely, what will oil and gas companies do thanks to 3D printing?
The technology has the potential to involve companies in multiple product design cycles and enables faster design validation. In most cases, it allows companies to manufacture field equipment components on site in a short time. This reduces the time required to replace components critical to the smooth running of operations.
“Long procurement processes for obtaining spare parts often require oil and gas companies to maintain extraordinarily high inventory levels, resulting in warehousing costs. 3D printing technology can solve this problem by allowing companies to manufacture parts as needed. Oil and gas companies will see a reduction in overall costs spent on supply chain management using 3D printing as a mainstream manufacturing technology, which would help them improve operational efficiency and drive growth.