In today’s world, we can plainly understand that oil is different from gas, but in reality, these two entities are lumped together in one industry. The oil and gas industries have flourished throughout the years abiding by the same notion of providing fuel to the masses. Even the most environmentally conscious person will encounter some form of oil or gas within their daily routine. We use oil as petrol to fuel our cars, gas for cooking, and so many other uses for these vital substances. Gas and oil are a part of our lives and for the foreseeable future, will continue to be, but that does not mean that the industry cannot be improved upon. 3D Printing is aiding in the improvement of gas and oil as a whole.

Less Downtime for Oil Rigs

Oil and gas are distilled in various ways, but the common oil rig has long been a staple in the industry. People onboard these isolated structures must live for months and even years at a time with little contact from the outside world. It is a 24 hour a day job with rotating teams managing the structure, so understandably, downtime is remarkably expensive. If the oil rig is not making money, it is costing an amazing amount of money to maintain a crew even when the structure refuses to pull oil.

Broken pieces can put an oil rig out for quite some time making its investors uncontrollably nervous during this downtime. 3D Printing is proving to be an extreme benefit onboard oil rigs. Where traditional parts orders could take weeks to receive, when a 3D Printer is employed, that endless downtime can be shortened to just a few hours in many cases. With a 3D Printer ready and waiting, investors lose less money and hopefully, they will be able to pass that savings down to their customers.

Shell’s Ursa platform, 130 miles southeast of New Orleans, was the largest in the world when it was finished in 1999.

A Working Oil Rig in the Middle of the Ocean.

Essential Spare Parts

In most industries, the need for spare parts is virtually a no brainer. You can warehouse many parts for use for cars, boats, and many other industries, but the gas industry is a completely different animal. The parts necessary for both the oil and gas industries tend to be too large to warehouse in a traditional space. Many of the parts are simply too rare and as structures and industry standards change, those parts may become obsolete before they were even used. Warehousing spare parts for the oil and gas industry would be a nightmare, but 3D Printers take the need for warehousing completely out of the equation. The ability to adapt spare parts to changes in an instant and repair any damage to they systems simply by programing the part into the 3D Printer is an amazing concept some in the oil and gas industries are now, finally, embracing.

This is an example of pump equipment used in the fuel industries. Any parts pictured here could, potentially, be produced via 3D Printers as the machines are able to utilise a variety of different materials for more durable products.

Part Complexities

One of the largest issues so many gas and oil part components are so expensive is due to the complexities of the parts. Often, standard manufacturing practices involve many different pieces and a complicated geometry to ensure all parts are placed appropriately to meet with strict environmental standards. The whole process can be a nightmare and adds to the time and expense of making each piece individually.

3D Printing brings additive manufacturing to the oil and gas industry in tremendous fashion. Instead of taking the time to make each individual piece, workers can focus their time on other things. 3D Printers have the ability to provide even the most complex pieces in record time and without the need to break pieces apart and put them together after manufacturing. Many 3D Printed pieces have proved even stronger than standard manufactured varieties as there are less weak joints to break within the piece.

The Future of 3D Printing in the Oil and Gas Industries

Like most industries, the oil and gas sector is continually having to evolve. What is acceptable emissions and maintenance standards at one time, may not be 10 years down the line. As a whole we must always look for ways to improve the environment that we live in and 3D Printing can be a significant help with that. As more big name oil and gas companies discover the amazing qualities that 3D Printers can bring to their bottom line, we will see more companies embracing the ease and cost effective nature of this technology. 3D Printing is as adaptable as the gas and oil companies must be, so the union is truly a match made in heaven.


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