New centre to boost 3D printing in oil and gas industry

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Brice Le Gallo, DNV GL Brice Le Gallo
Regional Manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL - Oil & Gas
Sastry Yagnanna Kandukuri Sastry Yagnanna Kandukuri
Principal Specialist - Additive Manufacturing, DNV GL - Oil & Gas
New centre to boost 3D printing in oil and gas industry
To expand in the oil & gas and offshore & marine sectors, additive manufacturing needs technical standards and guidelines for qualifying and certifying equipment, processes, products, materials and personnel
  • 3D printing can transform field development projects and operations

  • Adoption levels in oil and gas remain low due to trust issues

  • A new DNV GL facility will build confidence in additive manufacturing

  • The facility can help Singapore become a global hub for the technology

Additive manufacturing, which progressively builds up products from raw materials such as metal powder feedstock or a wire, can transform the business models of many industries including oil & gas and offshore & marine. 

In its best-known form, 3D printing, it could save cost and time worth USD30 billion of additional value to oil and gas companies, the World Economic Forum has estimated.1 Shell2,3 and Woodsideare among operators variously researching, developing, and using 3D printing. 

The technology could allow organizations to access an archive of digital designs for immediate on-site printing rather than maintaining physical inventories of spare parts and/or waiting for them to be made and transported to a platform or vessel. For example, a financial case can be proved for using 3D printing for offshore risers, gas-turbine nozzles, subsea chemical stick injection tools and nozzles for downhole cleanout tools, according to analysts Lux Research.5 There is also potential to scale up additive manufacturing for larger structures.

“This is a potential revolution for the oil & gas and offshore & marine sectors in the way products are designed, manufactured, and distributed to end users,” said Dr Sastry Kandukuri, principal specialist – additive manufacturing, DNV GL - Oil & Gas.  

"As the technology becomes more accessible, more affordable, and more capable, it is time for its strategic and sustainable adoption in the oil & gas and offshore & marine industries," added Brice Le Gallo, regional manager, South East Asia and Australia, DNV GL - Oil & Gas.

"We are at the start of an emerging market for selling digital rights and licences to print parts, repair and refine obsolete parts, and establish a wider supply chain,” he said. “Add in Blockchain technology for secure, private traceability and the digital aspect of additive manufacturing is where the scalability and disruptive power of it resides.” 

3D printing remains low in the oil & gas sector

Despite its potential, adoption of 3D printing in these sectors currently lags industries such as aviation.6 “Technology people do not necessarily understand how these industries work, and the latter do not always understand how the technology can add value,” observed Le Gallo. “Adopting 3D printing comes down to a question of trust.” 

DNV GL’s new Global Additive Manufacturing Technology Centre of Excellence (‘the Centre of Excellence’) in Singapore, established in February 2018, will bridge these gaps by dismantling barriers including, notably, whether 3D-printed parts can be qualified and certified to standards applied to traditionally-made goods (Figure 1: Obstacles to 3D printing). Its launch follows four years of research and work by DNV GL into the 3D-printing space. This included publication of the first classification guideline for using additive manufacturing in the oil & gas and offshore & marine industries. 

New centre will foster trust in 3D printing for oil and gas industry

There is currently no standardized way of proving to manufacturers and regulators that 3D-printed products are safe to use. “Part-by-part certification is costly, time-consuming, and counter to producing and using additive manufacturing parts on demand,” said Kandukuri, who heads up the Centre of Excellence. “So, it is vital to find alternatives to conventional qualification methods, and these will likely be based on validated models, probabilistic methods, and part similarities.” 

DNV GL’s Centre of Excellence will intensify the company’s work in additive manufacturing by providing technical standards and guidelines for qualifying and certifying equipment, processes, products, materials and personnel. It will serve as an incubator and testbed for 3D-printing technology, doubling as DNV GL’s global competence and service delivery center for assurance and advisory services in this and allied technologies. 

“The solutions part is about helping customers create a road map for additive manufacturing,” said Kandukuri. “We are assisting them to identify how additive manufacturing could add value to their businesses, and helping then to work gradually through feasibility stages.” 

For instance, DNV GL is working with 3D metal printer-maker Aurora Labs, Australia, to develop an additive manufacturing certification standard for the whole value chain from powders to parts, certifying the technical performance of Aurora’s technology and independently endorsing its processes and products. 

“We can translate industry needs into a qualification programme and work with technology providers to put that in place, not only during the construction phase of oil & gas or offshore & marine projects, but also during maintenance,” said Kandukuri. “The Centre of Excellence will play a central role in innovative, technology-driven, cost-effective solutions fabrication of large-scale offshore structural steel parts through the metal additive manufacturing route.” 

For DNV GL, the facility involves a cross-disciplinary team in an intensified programme on innovation and new business models. The team combines deep domain experience of a variety of sectors, direct experience of additive manufacturing, digital know-how, and long experience in certification and qualification. 

Collaboration is key to additive manufacturing progress 

Collaboration plays a key role in DNV GL’s Centre of Excellence. Through the new facility, the technical advisor is running a project with marine and offshore engineering group Sembcorp Marine; A*STAR SIMTech; and Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC). The collaboration will develop and certify laser-aided additive manufacturing (LAAM) technology in fabricating large-scale structures for newbuild vessels in Singapore. 

In addition, several joint industry projects are underway to define clear requirements for parts manufactured by additive manufacturing. DNV GL is collaborating with key stakeholders to develop standard guidelines enabling safe introduction of additive manufacturing to the oil & gas and offshore & marine industries. 

Commenting on recent developments, NAMIC’s managing director Dr Ho Chaw Sing said: “Part qualification and certification are key enablers for 3D printing adoption in enterprises, especially in specialized industries such as oil and gas and maritime. DNV GL is a global thought-leader in quality assurance and risk management. Its commitment to establish standards in qualification methodology has paved the way for major shipyards and offshore companies to embark on the 3D-printing journey. The LAAM partnership is the first of many initiatives, and we will continue to build on this.” 

Assisting Singapore’s ambitions in additive manufacturing 

It is no accident that DNV GL’s Centre of Excellence is in Singapore, where the company has materials experts, structural laboratories, and simulation experts and consultants. “Singapore has everything a world-class innovation ecosystem for additive manufacturing needs,” Kandukuri said. “Great education, supportive government, plenty of investment capital, strong corporates, local and international talent, and well-funded scientific research.”  

Singapore’s aim to generate very substantial added value per year from the technology by  2020 means much focus and support to make progress, he added. NAMIC is an example. Established in October 2015 to seed and industrialize additive manufacturing technologies in industries where Singapore has niche and strategic advantages, it has syndicated several public-private collaborations and partnerships including LAAM and hybrid wire arc additive manufacturing [WAAM], awarding nearly 100 project grants on R&D translation covering additive manufacturing technology, applications and standards. 

While the initial focus of DNV GL’s Centre of Excellence is on oil & gas and offshore & marine industries, wider opportunities beckon, Le Gallo concluded: “Ultimately, this will be a group-wide initiative in alternative manufacturing. It will use our global network of experts with deep domain experience, and our laboratories and test sites to address applications in all business areas of relevance to us and our customers. It is an amazing opportunity to impact on the future and to be involved in the future management of a young talent pool that embraces new disruptive technologies.” 


  1. World Economic Forum digital transformation initiative’, World Economic Forum, January 2017
  2. 3D printing’, shell.com
  3. ‘How Shell used 3D printing on its Stones development’, oedigital.com, 22 August 201
  4. Case study: 3D printing’, woodside.com
  5. Assessing the opportunity of additive manufacturing for the oil and gas industry’, Lux Research, October 2016
  6. Airbus is ready for industrialization of 3D printing in 2016’, Davide Sher, 3dprintingindustry.com, 4 January 2016
  7. Class Guideline DNVGL-CG-0197 ‘Additive Manufacturing – Qualification and certification process for materials and components’, Edition June 2017
DNV GL's Singapore facilities
DNV GL’s Singapore facilities are a sustainable centre of competence supporting the industry with high-end advisory and technical assurance services, offering an independent perspective across the oil and gas value chain.


DNV GL prides itself on providing accurate information but makes no claims or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of contents in this publication, and disclaims liability for any errors or omissions. The authors’ views here do not necessarily reflect DNV GL’s views.