3D printing is a very interesting form of manufacturing that allows for the creation of precise models at a small scale. For a cost effective order, it isn't usually necessary to order 10,000 pieces. This is great for product developers trying to prototype ideas, artists to see their creations come to life, and for various industries. I want to cover the impact of 3D printing on the oil and gas industry.
Before I go into details, I really want to emphasize one point. 3D printing is great for the creation of products at a small scale. It is also great for entirely custom designs. Anyone can create products through 3D printing! Some situations call for less than $150 for a truly custom piece. That number typically ranges a bit higher in a machine shop and through other methods. With that being said, I want to jump into how this technology can impact the oil and gas industry.
Within this industry, there are quite a few service companies. By service companies, I mean companies that will move onto oil and gas rigs to establish systems, valves, and operations on that vessel. The prices of these jobs range well into the millions in many cases. Before a service can be conducted, a service must be 'sold' to a team. Marketing in one way or another generates 100% of all sales, and sales generate 100% of all business. 3D printing can prominently help in this marketing effort for a wide variety of services done in the oil and gas industry. I'm not a drilling engineer, and I can't go into depth on the exact parts and systems for drilling processes, but I can tell you that 3D printing can help boost the marketing efforts for these services. Many valves and physical products are involved within these service industries, and these products have to be sold.
3D printing can easily be used to produce scaled visuals of these parts when presenting ideas to prospective clients. When your team of sales representatives approaches prospective clients, they are typically going to be very prepared. Visuals such as computer images, printed out images, specifications, and details of products will be presented to clients. This method has definitely worked since the industry began, but why not amp it up at an exponential rate? If every member of your sales team could bring forward a physical visualization of the product, I can almost guarantee you that your sales would increase. What is a few thousand dollars, or maybe even a couple tens of thousands of dollars (to equip your entire team) if it helps create just 1-2 additional sales? Yet again, I'm not a drilling engineer, but I can tell you that quite a few wells cost over 15 million dollars to operate. If you spent even $100,000 on 3D printing to equip EVERY sales representative with a visual, and it led to ONE sale, the money would be made back. Odds are, the money spent will be a fraction of $100,000, but I can almost guarantee you that the profit returned for each sale will be within seven figures.