The Oil and Gas Industry Embraces 3D Printing

GE doubles down on its investment in 3D printing, expanding additive manufacturing operations to its oil and gas division.

3D printing, GE, DMLS, oil, gas, industryManufacturing giant General Electric continues to push forward with its investment in 3D printing technology, stating that its oil and gas division will begin production of 3D printed metal nozzles in the first half of 2014.

While GE’s initial investment in its oil and gas division’s metal nozzle production is still considered a pilot project, the company fully expects to begin producing end-use parts no later than 2015.

Currently, the company is in the throes of integrating additive manufacturing technology into the production of fuel nozzles for its CMF Leap jet engines, a move that further supports the notion that any oil and gas test program is likely to be a success.

While GE won’t be the first major player to use 3D printing to shake up the oil and gas industry – Halliburton currently uses the tech to produce drilling parts – the company’s investment in additive manufacturing looks to be more far reaching. In fact, over the course of the next two years GE will invest $100M in its oil and gas operation with a large share of that money dedicated to AM.

As oil and gas companies look deeper in their search for viable deposits of crude, ever more complex designs will be required to get the job done. With 3D printing GE sees an opportunity to give its engineers a technology that will help them effectively iterate their designs and cut product development time.

As one of additive manufacturing’s biggest industrial champions, GE is doing a service to the rapidly growing manufacturing tech; and while metal-based 3D printing technology continues to grow, more industries are finding its current incarnation to be a useful manufacturing technique. Suggesting that in the very near future, fully mature DMLS systems might be an indispensable tool for advanced design and product development.

Image Courtesy of GE