https://www.smartechanalysis.com/reports/additive-manufacturing-opportunities-in-oil-gas-markets-2016-a-ten-year-forecast/ leading analyst firm SmarTech Publishing, paints a bright picture for the growth of additive (AM) adoption in the oil & gas industry, with global revenues expected to reach $450 million by 2021 and pass the $1.4 billion mark by 2025. SmarTech Publishing’s new study reports that the long-term outlook for opportunities for AM in the oil & gas industry are strongly positive, throughout the ten-year forecast period. However, the oil & gas industry is lagging behind in terms of AM adoption compared to other major industries such as aerospace, medical and even automotive, and major revenue generation for AM will not materialize until 2018. From then on, the opportunities for AM in oil & gas will grow rapidly. The chart describes the projected growth for business volume of AM adoption in the Oil & Gas Industry. Overall growth is expected to reach nearly 2000%. Source: SmarTech Publishing Opportunities Oil & gas enterprises, favor conservative and proven processes regardless of their cost structure or efficiency. This trend has been reinforced in recent years as oil reserves have come under the control of large sovereign national groups, which are often even less likely to invest in technological innovation. The bottom line here is that genuine opportunities for generating AM-related revenues in the oil & gas sector will only be found where the benefits are (more or less) immediate and where they can be easily proven.
- The report confirms that most of the immediate benefits of AM in the upstream segment of the oil & gas industry can be seen in the the production of more efficient drill bits. This can be achieved both by powder bed AM technologies, used to produce parts with integrated sensors, and by directed energy deposition based AM technologies, which represent a viable solution for outfitting existing drill bit designs with new sensory equipment through remanufacturing.
- Pump components and valve fittings may also be optimized by AM technologies through improved designs which yield better operating ranges in terms of pressure control and improving the flow rates for oil and gas products during extraction and separation.
- Also, highly beneficial to the oil & gas sector is the use of AM for tooling and realization of custom sand casts for injection molding. This is ideal for optimizing production of fixed cutter drill bit manufacturing for well drilling, where the traditional process is painstakingly laborious and could be significantly streamlined.
- The same binder jetting process used for tooling with mineral-based materials can also be implemented with metal powders to directly produce complex components at significantly lower costs. For example to manufacture short runs of downhole stators made of an extremely resistant stainless/bronze infiltrated metal powder material. In a now famous use case scenario this yielded excellent results a drastically reduced costs.
- For example for the production of heat exchangers which are necessary in the separation process as well as to pass through midstream processing and refinery facilities. In some cases, final use heat exchangers have been printed in their entirety.
- Also important in the AM context is the production of complex valve fittings, which are necessary to achieve constant flow of revenue generating product, and to increase safety. Those already being manufactured by GE at its Kariwa plant in Japan represent just the tip of what could be possible in terms of optimization of the existing designs in oil and gas equipment in order to increase both the flow rates and reduce instances of pressure drop.