Additive manufacturing (AM) has received attention from the oil sands industry in recent years. Oil sands producers use AM technologies to fabricate parts with complex geometries that are difficult or impossible to make via conventional manufacturing. AM can also enable rapid iteration of design ideas and printing of prototypes directly from 3D CAD models quickly and cost-effectively. 3D printed cemented carbide and other wear-resistant materials have been investigated to improve operational reliability and reduce production costs. As AM is still in the early development stages, oil sands producers need to understand the capabilities and limitations of the various 3D printing processes available, comprehensively identify and validate suitable applications for their use. This paper reviews the current 3D printing technologies for making cemented carbide wear-resistant materials and emphasizes the potential applications, restrictions, and challenges of 3D printing applications in the oil sands industry.


Canada's oil sands are the third largest deposit of crude oil in the world, and consist of a mixture of sand, water, and bitumen. Due to an aggressive operating environment that includes abrasive sands and corrosive chemicals, oil sands equipment and process piping often experience severe wear and erosion-corrosion, which can lead to the risk of equipment failures, plant downtime or, even worse, environmental leaks [1]. For more than half a century, oil sands producers have collaborated with materials suppliers, equipment fabricators, and technology providers to develop wear technologies to reduce downtime and improve operational reliability. The National Research Council Canada (NRC) Mining Materials Wear and Corrosion consortium [2] and the Innotech Alberta Materials and Reliability in Oil Sands (MARIOS) program [3] are two leading consortiums connecting oil sands producers with manufacturers to collaboratively solve wear, erosion, and erosion-corrosion problems. Current research activities include materials for slurry transport applications, wear-resistant overlays, non-metallic liners, sintered metal carbides, composite chrome white iron, and additive manufacturing (AM).

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