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What Kind of Potential Does 3D Printing Hold for Oil and Gas?

Barry Calnan speaks with Rigzone on the potential of 3D printing in the oil and gas industry.

3D printing – or the process of making physical objects from a digital model using a printer – has been around for decades, but a number of industries, including oil and gas, are now exploring ways that 3D printing could enhance product development.

Rigzone addresses the interest in oil and gas and interviews Barry Calnan, 3D printing manager with 3D-Printing Solutions, part of well control and rig equipment consulting firm Subsea Solutions LLC, who said that the materials available for 3D printing also would need to be certified by the oil and gas industry, in the same way that the aerospace and motor vehicle industries has done, to make them usable. Subsea Solutions uses 3D printed models as part of its training courses, allowing students to hold, take apart and reassemble components of equipment such as a blowout preventer.

3D Printing Calls for New Approach in Engineering Drawings

Calnan said that 3D printing is more than just reproducing parts that are already being created in a cost-efficient way. But increasing the number of ways that 3D printing can be used in oil and gas means that old school engineering drawings would need to be translated into modern design, or modifying existing design concepts into designs not envisioned when the parts were designed using standard manufacturing technologies, said Calnan.

Part of the issue also is changing engineers’ mindset of current manufacturing standards and limitations. Calnan cites the example of a group of engineers that he had presented to on the concept of 3D printing. While they found it interesting, the consensus was that it would be impossible to use 3D printing. This is very understandable, as 10 years ago, the main focus of engineering was to know the rules and make sure everything was engineering to meet the standards and make things work well and safely.

Barry Calnan hopes that 3D printing can allow oil and gas tools and equipment to be reimagined in new, more efficient ways, a goal on which major oil and gas companies would have to take lead. Doing things the same way that they’ve always been done and expecting to innovate is just crazy. “In a downturn, you need to leverage the people you have to create better products in a better, and more cost effective way.”

You can read the full article on Rigzone here:


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