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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