Technology Saves Time; Brings Savings
Technology and innovations the world is witnessing comes with numerous economical and environmental benefits, crucial in driving growth in today’s rapidly changing global scene.
Over the next decade, pace of technological developments will accelerate and all industry sectors stand to benefit.
Three-dimensional (3D) printing: the digitization of manufacturing is one such technology innovation, which allows multi-piece assemblies to be recreated in one piece in a more efficient and cost-effective manner without the limitations of traditional manufacturing processes.
3D printing, also called selective laser melting, is a type of Additive Manufacturing (AM). It involves three essential phases. In first phase, a digital 3D model is designed and converted into a standard AM format file. In second phase, this file is adjusted to the desired shape, position, orientation and scaling using a 3D printer, which uses a powerful laser beam to fuse powdered metal and make instruments. In third phase, the object is built layer by layer, in microscopic slices of around just 0.03 mm each.
AM – paradigm shift for manufacturing, logistics and product design – has been referred as the ‘third industrial revolution’ by The Economist. AM has many advantages. With this technology, complex and innovative instruments could be created that are impossible with other manufacturing technologies.
Sometimes referred to as rapid prototyping or rapid manufacturing, AM minimizes delivery lead times and significantly reduce costly downtime by enabling on-site manufacturing of machine parts. Other advantages include reduction of waste material, potentially low energy consumption during production, more innovation possibilities and customisation, part consolidation and a final product with less weight. This gives significant cost savings and improvement in product performance.
AM application areas are numerous. It is estimated to have a huge market size of $20 billion in 2020. It covers sectors like medical, aerospace, motor vehicles, consumer products and electronics, and industrial machines. Power sector and oil and gas companies are no exception.
Siemens has been investing in this innovative technology and has successfully built the world´s first 3D printed gas turbine blades. Prototyping through 3D Printing delivers major benefits to oil and gas companies and transforms the effectiveness of upstream supply chains as well as brings new opportunities and revenue streams to their downstream businesses.
3D printing is set to penetrate into a mainstream digital market. It is highly recommended for energy policymakers to consider integrating AM into their long-term energy planning and programmes.