A few months ago, The Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) announced the first research project that it has commissioned as part of its mission to making sustainability a standard in the AM industry. With Jeremy Faludi at the Head of this project, the project aimed to provide the public with an excellent survey of existing research on the sustainability benefits of AM.
Today, AMGTA announces the publication of this literature-based systematic review of the environmental benefits of metal AM.
As expected, the report “synthesizes existing academic literature comparing the environmental impacts of metal AM with conventional manufacturing methods, and provides context with impacts of common metals and processing methods found in a materials database.”
The report underlines the fact that AM generally has much higher carbon footprints per kg of material processed than CM [conventional manufacturing].This is especially relevant when we are talking about the direct manufacturing process itself. However, its impact depends on part geometry—a solid cube will be much lower impact to produce by machining, while a hollow shell or lattice can be lower impact to produce by AM.”
It also sheds light on the need for additional life cycle assessment (LCA) studies to quantify environmental impacts: “More LCA studies are necessary to definitively compare metal AM to CM; especially direct comparisons of AM to machining, and especially for technologies such as binder jetting and DED. These LCAs should ideally also include more of the product life cycle.”
“We were pleased to work with Dr. Faludi and Ms. Van Sice on this study,” said Sherry Handel, the Executive Director of the AMGTA. “No one should expect metal AM to be a more sustainable way to manufacture basic metal parts given the focused energy inherent in laser melting, but AM should present a more sustainable course for manufacturing finished precision components.”
Ms. Handel continued, “These findings validate the AMGTA’s plans to provide the industry with rigorous, independent, and ongoing research. The AMGTA will continue to commission studies and publish research findings in an effort to update the industry and other key stakeholders on what our eco-footprint is now and what we will need to focus on in the future to be more sustainable.”
The full paper is available to AMGTA member companies, other industry stakeholders, and the general public here.
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