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In an era of low oil prices, 3D printing offers gains in a wide range of use cases, as leaders like Halliburton, Schlumberger and Shell begin to use the technology, says Lux Research.

Clare Goldsberry

November 15, 2016

2 Min Read
Oil and gas industry turns to 3D printing to cut costs and boost efficiency

Under pressure to maintain profits despite low oil prices, the old-school oil and gas industry is turning to the new-school technology of 3D printing, according to Lux Research (Boston, MA).

“3D printing holds promise for the oil and gas industry, but the industry needs to change its culture and learn to integrate 3D printing into its complex supply chain in order to fully benefit,” said Harshit Sharma, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report, “Assessing the Opportunity of Additive Manufacturing for the Oil and Gas Industry.”

“It can take lessons from successful adopters, notably from GE’s acquisitions and successful implementation of 3D printing for mass production,” he added.

Some of the applications that have been tested and proven include sand control screens, pipeline pigs, liner hanger spikes and drill bits. Lux Research analysts created value and suitability metrics for 12 specific use cases of 3D printing in the oil and gas industry. Some of their findings include:

  • Profitable use cases including 3D printing chemical injection stick tools and nozzles for downhole cleanout tools. Two speculative use cases that also sit in the “forthcoming” quadrant are sand control screens and pipeline pigs.

  • Partnerships are key to overcoming technological barriers in the short term. Oil and gas companies should engage with metal printing companies such as EnergyX and Arevo for developing new printing techniques for use cases such as liner hanger spikes. For drill bits, candidate partners include Nanosteel and QuesTek Innovations.

  • Culture, conservatism are barriers. Oil and gas executives city industry size and structure, risk aversion and lack of infrastructure as key reasons for the slow adoption of 3D printing. However, the success of 3D printing in the automotive and aerospace industries shows these factors are not insurmountable barriers, and the oil and gas industry’s growing focus on operational efficiency is driving change.

For more information or to purchase the report, go to the Lux Research website.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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