Low-Risk Additive Manufacturing Opportunities for the Oil and Gas Industry

Additive manufacturing

Low-Risk Additive Manufacturing Opportunities for the Oil and Gas Industry

As the world’s primary fuel source, the oil and gas industry must have reliable technology in place to support complex production and delivery needs. Below ground, the industry uses innovative equipment for processes like drilling and mapping. But above ground, the pace of equipment innovation has been slower (with notable exceptions such as downhole tooling). 

While many industries have turned to additive manufacturing as an alternative to CNC machining and injection molding, the oil and gas industry has been hesitant to embrace this technology.

In some ways, it’s easy to understand this caution. Because oil and gas are produced in extremely dangerous environments, processes are highly regulated and difficult to change.

But even high-risk industries like aerospace are leveraging 3D printing more and more. So why not oil and gas, too?

If you want to integrate additive manufacturing for oil and gas applications, the key is to start small. Here’s how to leverage 3D printing in the oil and gas industry and begin building additive manufacturing literacy into your company.

Low-Risk Additive Manufacturing Opportunities

Rapid prototyping for testing and validation purposes. 

Designing 3D printed components into in-service applications can be risky. But 3D printing is a cost-effective tool for concept modeling. It lends speed and agility to the product development process, providing low-risk opportunities for companies in the oil and gas industry:

  • Trying out a new part and seeing how it fits into a pump, valve, or other assembly
  • Testing critical features and functions before moving forward into production 
  • Iterating features and characteristics quickly and without burdensome cost

When one of our customers wanted to test fluid flow in a critical component, they relied on 3D printing for concept modeling. They were able to test for pressure drop and other characteristics that would impact the component in a real operating environment—and they built additive manufacturing literacy in the process.  

Creating spare parts.

Components like bushings and backup rings that expire or break down over time can be expensive and time-consuming to replace. When every lost minute of operating time affects the bottom line, you simply can’t afford downtime while waiting for a spare part to come in.

Oil and gas customers with parts that are too expensive or difficult to replace can benefit from digitizing those parts for on-demand 3D printing. This solution delivers exactly the parts you need in as little as 48 hours. 

Another customer of ours had an urgent need for just 5 backup rings. Using traditional manufacturing methods to make those parts would involve compression molding a billet and then machining it. But with 3D printing, it was possible to produce the backup rings quickly and cost-effectively using durable materials that are as strong as metal

At Alchemy Industrial, we believe that the road to additive manufacturing literacy begins with starting simple. If you’re interested in leveraging 3D printing for the oil and gas industry, give us a call and let’s talk about your additive manufacturing goals.