Environmental dimensions of additive manufacturing: mapping application domains and their environmental implications

Kellens, Karel and Baumers, Martin and Gutowski, Timothy G. and Flanagan, William and Lifset, Reid and Duflou, Joost R. (2017) Environmental dimensions of additive manufacturing: mapping application domains and their environmental implications. Journal of Industrial Ecology . ISSN 1530-9290

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Abstract

Additive manufacturing (AM) proposes a novel paradigm for engineering design and manufacturing, which has profound economic, environmental, and security implications. The design freedom offered by this category of manufacturing processes and its ability to locally print almost each designable object will have important repercussions across society. While AM applications are progressing from rapid prototyping to the production of end-use products, the environmental dimensions and related impacts of these evolving manufacturing processes have yet to be extensively examined. Only limited quantitative data are available on how AM manufactured products compare to conventionally manufactured ones in terms of energy and material consumption, transportation costs, pollution and waste, health and safety issues, as well as other environmental impacts over their full lifetime. Reported research indicates that the specific energy of current AM systems is 1 to 2 orders of magnitude higher compared to that of conventional manufacturing processes. However, only part of the AM process taxonomy is yet documented in terms of its environmental performance, and most life cycle inventory (LCI) efforts mainly focus on energy consumption. From an environmental perspective, AM manufactured parts can be beneficial for very small batches, or in cases where AM-based redesigns offer substantial functional advantages during the product use phase (e.g., lightweight part designs and part remanufacturing). Important pending research questions include the LCI of AM feedstock production, supply-chain consequences, and health and safety issues relating to AM.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: additive manufacturing, energy efficiency, industrial ecology, resource efficiency, sustainability, 3D printing
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
Identification Number: 10.1111/jiec.12629
Depositing User: Baumers, Martin
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2017 07:37
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2017 10:17
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/45499

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