Additive Manufacturing Technology Potential: A Cleaner Manufacturing Alternative

Additive Manufacturing Technology Potential: A Cleaner Manufacturing Alternative


This paper focuses on an emerging manufacturing technology called Additive Manufacturing (AM) and its potential to become a more efficient and cleaner manufacturing alternative. This work is built around selected case companies, where the benefit of AM compared to other more traditional technologies is studied through the comparison of resource consumption. The resource consumption is defined as raw materials and energy input. The scope of this work is the application of AM in the scale model kit industry. The method used is the life cycle inventory study, which is a subtype of life cycle assessment (LCA). The result of the paper is the quantification of raw materials and energy consumption. The outcomes shows that AM has higher efficiency in terms of materials usage, as a higher proportion of materials ending up in the final product. Injection Molding (IM), on the other hand, wastes a significant proportion of raw materials in components that are not part of the final product. If the same or similar raw materials are used in both manufacturing methods, the advantage is clearly with AM. However, AM has higher energy consumption in comparison to the injection molding technique (IM). In terms of energy consumption, AM only has an advantage in this area when working with a very low production volume. The analysis of the energy consumption shows that most of the energy used in AM is to create the final product, while IM only uses a fraction of the total energy to produce the final product. AM technologies are still very new but have the potential for development and reduction of energy consumption in the future. Added to this potential is the higher materials usage efficiency of AM, which reduce the waste of materials and the energy, embedded in them. These two factors are likely to position AM as cleaner manufacturing alternative.


additive manufacturing, 3d printing


Kianian, B., Larsson, T. (2015). Additive Manufacturing Technology Potential: A Cleaner Manufacturing Alternative.
In: Proceedings of the ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences &
Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE 2015), August 2nd-5th, 2015,
Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Categories: Publications, Research