Why IT must be involved
Concerns over intellectual property confidentiality and security, especially within the engineering domains, remain a drag on 3D printing’s progress.
O&G companies, like other users of 3D designs, need to manage the associated intellectual property issues with great care. They are entering uncharted territory when it comes to intellectual property and design risks. Licensing and manufacturing stipulations for legally and safely reproducing parts using 3D printing are in their embryonic stages. Senior managers are only now beginning to address these issues.
Take for example the opportunity to use 3D printing to manufacture replacement parts on-site, which is particularly attractive in remote O&G drilling locations. This could lead companies to fall foul of patent and other legal issues surrounding the duplication of parts without permission or payment. Every 3D-printed part must meet the manufacturer's quality and performance specifications.
The geographically dispersed nature of the upstream O&G industry can also create challenges in terms of where and how to store data - which can include 3D printing data - as well as with industry and government standards for the transporting or sharing of data. Using 3D print service bureaus with regional or multinational facilities can help alleviate some of these issues.
Ultimately the impact of 3D printing on IT will be substantial, requiring O&G CIOs to provide the flexibility needed to foster innovation while enabling access control and security.