The pressure on the industry to be greener and think more sustainably is constantly growing, and sustainable production processes like 3D printing are becoming more and more important. To celebrate Earth Day, today we’re shedding light on what exactly makes additive manufacturing more sustainable than conventional manufacturing technologies.
For us, five features clearly stand out:
- material savings: through extended geometry freedom and software tools for topological optimization, AM enables entirely new components. For example, material is only built up where it is really needed mechanically. This reduces the bound primary energy required for raw material production and also the energy required for manufacturing.
- hardly any production waste: Only small volumes of support structures or milling chips from post-processing are generated, which can be recycled. No molds or tools are needed for additive manufacturing.
- inherent lightweight design: hollow bodies filled with lightweight lattice structures instead of parts cast from solid material can be optimally manufactured with AM. When used in vehicles and aircrafts, this saves large amounts of fuel and CO2.
- green materials: recycled plastics, recycled metal powders, and bio-based as well as biodegradable plastics can already be processed in AM today. The quality is often comparable to conventional materials.
- Improved recyclability: Multi-hierarchical design (several functions in one component) is often only possible with AM and allows multiple functions to be accomplished with only one material (e.g. cooling and structure). Monomaterials are much more recyclable.
All in all, it shows that we can make a big step towards more sustainable production processes with additive manufacturing.
At MGA, we will continue to work to establish 3D printing alongside conventional methods in production processes, for a greener future.