How important is sustainability in additive manufacturing?

During Formnext 2021, the four-day international trade fair for additive manufacturing, we saw new and optimized machines, innovative materials, software packages and post-processing solutions and applications. In recent years, it has become clear to many manufacturers, but especially to users, which technologies and materials will continue to dominate the market in the future. Instead of numerous new innovations, the focus is now on product optimization as well as optimization of the AM supply chain. Furthermore, in addition to the goal of creating more effective machines for series production and automating production processes, both of which are helping to solidify AM’s presence in Industry 4.0, sustainability is also becoming a main focus in the development of additive manufacturing. But what specific demands does the market place on companies? And how are they facing up to current and future challenges? We were out and about at Formnext and were able to talk to some of the exhibitors about this and find out more about the aspirations of the different players in AM.

As a process in itself, additive manufacturing already represents a more sustainable means of production. This is particularly evident in the fact that 3D printing eliminates the use of excess material and thus unnecessary waste virtually from the outset. The ability to use generative design also plays an important role in terms of part optimization and is one of the main advantages of 3D printing compared to traditional manufacturing methods. In addition, a 3D printer enables on-demand manufacturing. This not only saves time, but also eliminates the need for long transport routes and storage areas, consequently reducing CO2 footprints.

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3D printing clean(er) and more sustainable energy and parts

Can AM play a part in tomorrow’s sustainable energy mix and will it be worth it?

Wind turbines are one source of renewable energy that is target in Joe Biden's platform

Establishing additive manufacturing as a truly sustainable production method inevitably entails powering tomorrow’s 3D printers. Small polymer systems require minimal power, but farms of thousands of machines, larger PBF systems and especially metal systems do and will require massive amounts of energy to function. 3D printing can facilitate distributed manufacturing, which means that products will be less reliable on transportation, so the main challenge in making AM more sustainable is by powering 3D printers using clean energy.

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3D printing offers new sustainable supply chain paradigm

3D printing establishes a new era for sustainable manufacturing.

These days, there are several companies that put sustainability in the driver’s seat. If they intend to realize a net zero carbon, fully regenerative economy while reducing overall environmental footprint, sustainability must underscore everything.

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Any company aiming to remain competitive and viable beyond this decade is redefining its business priorities around accelerated, expansive change that is also better for the planet. More and more leaders are asking themselves whether the world can be transformed by rethinking their approach to design and manufacturing. However, true resiliency requires looking beyond a company’s own operations to its entire ecosystem.

When HP surveyed global digital manufacturing and 3D printing decision makers in late 2020, an overwhelming majority (89%) said they were changing their business models, and at least nine out of 10 were investigating new and more sustainable supply chain models. One reason is because supply chains are a conduit to widespread sustainable innovation, but only where there’s a willingness to redefine manufacturing paradigms.  

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Ford, HP turn 3D printing waste into parts

Ford and HP are looking to make 3D printing technology more sustainable. The giants of industry are teaming up to reuse spent 3D printing parts and powders for vehicle parts, minimizing waste in the process.

a fuel-line clip for the Ford F-250 made in collaboration with HP using 3D printing waste

Ford and HP are testing the process by making injection-molded fuel-line clips for the Ford F-250 Super Duty. According to Ford, the recycled parts are lighter, less expensive, and more resistant that conventional fuel-line clips. Because the project has panned out successfully so far, Ford is looking to bring its innovation to as many as 10 new vehicles.

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DNV GL releases new 3D printing service specification for the Oil & Gas industry

DNV GL, a global certification and risk management firm, has released a new 3D printing service specification document aimed at supporting additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry.

Surveyors on a shipbuilding project. Photo via DNV GL

Specification DNVGL-SE-0568 defines DNV’s additive manufacturing qualification scheme and provides details on how to obtain and retain a number of the company’s 3D printing-related certificates. This includes certificates that endorse facilities and digital manufacturing services, and certificates that qualify manufacturers, build processes, 3D printers, parts, and personnel.

The document was developed in accordance with industry standard DNVGL-ST-B203, which DNV previously created for metallic components in the energy sector. As such, the specification is ultimately intended to help the industry in adopting metal 3D printing in a safe and efficient manner.

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Ford and HP reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts

Ford Desktop Metal

Ford teamed up with HP to reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts, thus closing a supply chain loop and turning them into injection-molded vehicle parts. The recycled materials are being used to manufacture injection-molded fuel-line clips installed first on Super Duty F-250 trucks.  The parts have better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions, are 7% lighter and cost 10% less. The Ford research team has identified 10 other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that could benefit from this innovative use of material and are migrating it to future models.

Sustainability is a priority for both companies, which, through joint exploration, led to this unlikely, earth-friendly solution. The resulting injection-molded parts are better for the environment with no compromise in the durability and quality standards Ford and its customers demand.

“Finding new ways to work with sustainable materials, reducing waste and leading the development of the circular economy are passions at Ford,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow, Sustainability.

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Naval 3D Printing grows with DNV verification of 3D printed crane

The maritime sector is one of the more overlooked segments in 3D printing, with only a handful of companies really taking advantage of the opportunities there. A new business involved in 3D printing for naval uses has made itself known, Austal Australia, who, along with its partners, AML3D (ASX:AML) and Western Australia’s Curtin University, has 3D printed an aluminum personnel recovery davit. The device has been verified by DNV, the world’s largest classification society at its Global Additive Manufacturing Technology Centre of Excellence in Singapore.

According to international and naval specifications, Austal, AML3D and Curtin University produced a three-meter-long crane, also known as a davit, designed for personnel recovery. The assembly was then tested to support over two times its intended working load. This was followed by non-destructive and destructive testing. The testing process included microanalysis of the microstructure of the aluminum parts, with mechanical and corrosion properties compared to those of traditional marine grade materials.

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3D printing industry responds to the opportunity of new Right to Repair EU laws

Companies that sell consumer electronic goods in the European Union (EU) will be obliged to ensure they can be repaired for up to a decade, as a result of new Right to Repair legislation passed by the European Parliament.

Dishwasher Float printed in MJF / PA12. Photo via Spare Parts 3D.

3D Printing Industry asked EOS, Spare Parts 3D, DiManEx, Ricoh 3D and Link3D for their thoughts on how 3D printed spare parts could help consumer appliance manufacturers adhere to the legislation, while avoiding large physical stocks of replacement parts and subsequent incurring costs.

From summer 2021, the new EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling regulation will give consumers the ‘right to repair’ on the goods they buy, meaning manufacturers will be legally required to make spare parts for products available to consumers for up to 10 years. The goods in question include refrigerators, dishwashers, hairdryers, lights, TVs, and so on, although appliances such as phones and laptops are not covered by the new laws.

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How 3D printing helps you become eco-friendly

The subject of this article compels us to dive into various concepts associated with 3D printing and how it helps to stay eco-friendly. So, is it true that 3D printing could help us sustain a healthy planet? Or, is 3D Printing technology purely Eco-friendly, or is it relatively Eco-friendly? Also, why not find out how additive manufacturing is better than other existing processes of manufacturing when vouching for a greener planet.

Eco-friendly manufacturing processes have been longed for from centuries. In order to find ways to produce items that humans need, in a manner that is safe for our environment, we do have researched a lot. By building an alternative way for conserving and preserving the inhabitants and resources of our planet that consume less non-renewable energy and produce less waste could definitely help us save our planet from the doom’s day. And, 3D Printing technology has given us hope that can create and produce without destroying!

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What obstacles are in additive’s way?

Industry leaders discuss biggest obstacles facing the additive manufacturing space.

Mark Konig Ec Gv8s2 Ipg0 Unsplash

As the first two parts of this virtual roundtable discussed, 2020 was a milestone year for additive manufacturing and the industry has a solid future ahead. Of course, part of ensuring that the anticipated future becomes a reality rests with understanding the biggest challenges they will face along the way.

Read on to hear what industry leaders identify as the biggest remaining obstacles.

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