SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The mainstreaming of additive manufacturing, or 3D/4D printing, is disrupting conventional supply chains by not only challenging the position of incumbent parts suppliers, but also creating opportunities for existing companies to expand their operations. With 3D printers becoming affordable, several novel business models that account for greater customer participation in product manufacturing are likely to find enthusiastic acceptance among energy companies.
Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Impact of Additive Manufacturing (3D/4D Printing) on the Global Energy Sector, showcases the ways in which the industry employs additive manufacturing and lists its possible future applications. It covers major additive manufacturing technologies that have been developed for use in both conventional and unconventional energy fields, and includes an overview of the top companies in the market. The key end-user participants include major utilities, oil and gas exploration and production companies, oil & gas service companies, and established technology OEMs, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and start-ups.
“As 3D printers can be located at the client’s site, there will be reduced need for warehousing of components. This will also allow utilities to replace components faster, and employ newer and lighter materials,” noted Manoj Shankar, Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst forEnergy & Environment. “In due course, several standards and regulations are expected to be established to help integrate additive manufacturing into the energy industry.”
Additive manufacturing’s ability to speed up the production process and decrease product costs by 40 percent is expected to enhance its appeal in the energy industry. The main growth opportunities for 3D/4D printing in this sector include:
- Greater usage of cloud services in order to reach the customers quickly. Product designs can be uploaded on the cloud for use by clients or local service providers that can recreate the products locally.
- Redesign of the factory floors to store and maintain 3D printing materials.
- Alliance with government agencies to obtain the initial funding for the development of 3D printing. These partnerships can lead to the creation of high-technology products with acceptable levels of risk.
- Partnerships with local industrial giants for greater market access and reduced investment in local supply chains.
- Acquisition of local 3D printing firms to lower cost and the time to market.
- Reduction of global supply chains to local, smaller, faster, and closer supply chains.
“The rising need for customization, lower component costs, and parts that are no longer produced by original equipment manufacturers are creating significant opportunities for 3D printing in the energy sector,” said Shankar. “Future business models will include 3D Printing as a Service, in-house 3D printing, leasing 3D printing, and 3D printing hubs.”
Impact of Additive Manufacturing (3D/4D Printing) on the Global Energy Sector is part of Frost & Sullivan’s global Grids Growth Partnership Service program.
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