Exploring 3D Printing in Oil and Gas Industry

POSTED BY   Mark Grayson
18th May 2017

This week, our Social Media Specialist and Content Writer, David Dhannoo, turns his attention to 3D printing in oil and gas, a global industry that could be boosted from the recent US election result. But let’s move swiftly away from that contentious topic: 3D printing in oil and gas is demonstrating massive potential for this industry.

Exploring 3D Printing in Oil and Gas Industry

The development of related technology and production of equipment is constantly evolving in the oil and gas sector. The beauty of 3D printing makes it easier for products to advance, and makes processes work and run more efficiently.

3D Printing in Oil and Gas Industry

Some of the longer-term applications for 3D printing in oil and gas are expected to completely transform the way that components for a wide range of essential equipment are designed and produced.

This form of disruptive technology is playing an essential part in the industry’s research and development activities. Moreover, it is expected to expand to oil and gas operators and oilfield service providers.

Shell Case Study of 3D Printing in the Oil and Gas Sector

One oil company that stands out for its use of 3D printing is Shell. Shell’s Stones development, a buoy which features 222 pieces of syntactic foam, and was fitted together in sequence. Shell came to the conclusion that using a 3D printed model, would ensure there weren’t any safety issues when the team had to assemble the actual buoy.

As mentioned in the video below, 3D printing allows for very rapid prototyping; it allows you to engage with a design, installation sequence, and assess any safety risks involved in putting it together. If you do all of those things early on, it leads to far better outcomes.

Soon oil and gas companies will no longer need to wait for replacement parts but will have the ability to 3D print them on site. Having 3D printing on site will cut out long periods of time in situations where essential parts are in short supply, or where shipping and customs clearance issues have delayed operations.

In addition, having 3D printing technology in place can be used to create parts for the drilling process. This will not only will speed up drilling operations, but it could also potentially save millions in lost profits from lost work that can often be linked to malfunctioning or damaged machines. In this way, 3D printing helps the company and the consumer, as more efficient and cost effective methods can ultimately mean higher profits. It also equals great news for the consumer, as it increases the likelihood of oil prices being less expensive.

Although 3D printing sounds easier said than done, companies in the oil and gas sector that wish to utilise this form of technology into their daily operations must be aware of the challenges.

Due to the fact that 3D printing technology relies on digital information, IT staff will need to play an important role when adopting an integrated technology. They will therefore need to create a strong and secure digital infrastructure in order to utilise the company’s 3D data. Engineering teams will also play an important part in preparing digital assets for on site use.

Despite the challenges of IT staff and engineering teams having to adapt and learn how to use this disruptive form of technology, which is obviously something that doesn’t happen overnight, to all the bureaucracy involved, from licensing and manufacturing guidelines, to patent laws, the future of 3D printing technology in the oil and gas sector seems to be promising. It has been predicted that, by 2019, more than ten percent of all companies that operate in the oil and gas sector will transition from conventional manufacturing methods to more advanced and groundbreaking manufacturing methods.

Your thoughts on 3D Printing in the Oil and Gas Sector

What are your thoughts about 3D Printing in the Oil and Gas Sector? If you found this blog post interesting and would like to discuss the topic in more depth, feel free to leave us a comment via our Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus pages. Alternatively, you can tweet David directly about his blog post.

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Mark Grayson

Mark Grayson is the Senior Account Manager at TDMB. He comes from an Education background, having previously worked as Head of IT in secondary education, hence his interest in Technology in Education. He is also a gifted pianist, as well as being skilled in digital marketing, and is possibly the happiest, most positive person on Earth.

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