Quality assurance transforms the application of 3D printing in the oil and gas supply chain

Source: press release, 31 October 2022

Protolabs’ Director of Metal 3D Printing, Dr Christoph Erhardt
Protolabs’ Director of Metal 3D Printing, Dr Christoph Erhardt (photo: Protolabs)

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is transforming the oil and gas supply chain, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs according to Protolabs, the world-leading digital manufacturer.

The Middle East oil and gas 3D printing market is advancing rapidly as equipment manufacturers and suppliers benefit from its many advantages. These include greater flexibility in parts designs, a reduction in product development time, fewer resource requirements and leaner inventories. The technology and quality regimes have now evolved to make 3D Printing a viable manufacturing technology for mainstream use.

Research suggests the oil and gas 3D printing market will represent a USD 2 billion opportunity by 2029. The World Economic Forum has estimated 3D printing could eventually save up to USD 30 billion of additional value for the industry.

Protolabs’ Director of Metal 3D Printing Dr Christoph Erhardt will discuss “Advances in Manufacturing Technology, Transformation of the Oil & Gas Supply Chain through the Use of Additive Manufacturing” at the ADIPEC 2022 Smart Manufacturing Technical Conference, Abu Dhabi, at 14:20 on Wednesday, 2 November.

Dr Erhardt’s will discuss the rapid developments in additive manufacturing, and how material development and certification of the manufacturing process are helping to digitise the supply chain. He will highlight how 3D printing and increased digitalisation are transforming inventory supplies, offering a more cost-effective and efficient way of delivering critical components.

His presentation will explore manufacturing technologies including Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and the use of materials such as Inconel, maraging steel, cobalt chrome and titanium. It will also examine what organisations need to consider with 3D printing and the benefits it can bring.

Dr Erhardt says, “Spare parts and inventory supplies are critical in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of oil and gas assets across the globe. However, the burden this places on organisations to ensure redundancy of supply, logistics and storage increases their costs. This is encouraging the search for more effective ways to support operations without impacting performance.”

“The demand for 3D printing is growing in the oil and gas industry as companies recognise its operational, financial and environmental benefits. In the Middle East, suppliers and operators are already gaining value from the rapid and accurate generation of components, less downtime due to just-in-time part availability and a lower carbon footprint through reduced transport and manufacturing emissions,” Dr Erhardt continues.

Last year Protolabs became one of the only manufacturers in the Middle East, Asia and Europe to secure Qualification of Manufacturer certification from the independent risk management and assurance expert DNV.

The certification applies to Protolabs’ DMLS technology, specifically for the superalloy Inconel 718 – a high-strength, corrosion-resistant nickel chromium. Combining the exceptional properties of the material with Protolabs’ expertise in DMLS enables the company to rapidly produce complex and long-lasting parts for high temperature or harsh offshore and onshore environments.

Protolabs is the world’s fastest digital manufacturer. It offers a variety of materials and technologies for the oil and gas, maritime and offshore industries, as well as the broader energy sector.