Environments in oil and gas wells are harsh, complex and abrasive, wreaking havoc on drilling systems and equipment, which are especially difficult to replace or repair when in boreholes miles underground. For manufacturers in this space, industrial 3D printing, known as additive manufacturing (AM), has been a game-changer.
AM technologies showed early success in the oil and gas industry by producing plastic components, but they lacked durability for all drilling applications. Today, with AM’s advancements, specifically printing durable metals like (stainless) steels, nickel alloys and copper alloys, enables companies to design products meant for extremely challenging drilling tactics and complex geometries.
And the industry is taking notice. Major industry players, like BP, Shell and Total have begun establishing Joint Innovation Projects (JIPs) to develop guidelines and economic models for using AM in the oil and gas industry. In fact, it’s estimated that within the next five years, 3D printing in the oil and gas market will be worth $32 billion. By 2030, it’s expected to be worth over $60 billion.