GO GREEN WITH 3D PRINTED COMPONENTS
As the race to preserve and protect the health of our planet grows more urgent, the industrial sector has an increasingly important role to play – and is more compelled than ever before to reduce its significant environmental footprint.
Today’s manufacturers face growing societal and economic pressures and incentives to ‘go green’ – from shifting expectations from government, customers, investors, environmental groups, employees and consumers, and National Action Plans aligned to the Paris Agreement. Most manufacturers also realize that it is the right thing to do – for business and for the planet.
As a result, today’s OEMs are actively exploring and implementing policies, processes and innovations to reduce resource and energy consumption, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while diverting waste from landfill.
Offering many eco-friendly advantages over traditional manufacturing, the rapidly growing Additive Manufacturing industry is quickly becoming a strategic enabler of OEM’s sustainability goals. Read on to find out why…
HOW IS ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING ENABLING MORE SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING?
Additive Manufacturing is unique in the industrial space as it simultaneously drives both business and environmental benefits -- it’s good for the bottom line and good for the planet.
From an environmental perspective, OEMs can leverage AM to significantly reduce the overall environmental impact of their products, processes and supply chains.
Click on each of the benefits on the side bar to learn how AM can contribute to your sustainability goals..
In traditional manufacturing, components are often created by removing raw material from a block of metal to achieve the desired form. By contrast, additive manufacturing uses cutting-edge technologies to build 3D components with layer-upon-layer of metal powder – using only the necessary materials to create the desired part and eliminating any waste.
On-demand manufacturing & inventory reduction
Additive manufacturing allows OEMs to build parts entirely on-demand – making only the components they need, when and where they need them. Because production is right-sized to an OEM’s needs, AM drastically reduces the need to buy, carry and store inventory, and eliminates obsolete, scrap or surplus materials and parts.
Optimized, low-emission supply chain
The constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic has put continuity of supply and the re-shoring of critical parts at the top of most companies’ agendas – raising the profile of AM as an opportunity to build greater resilience into the supply chain.
Because AM is only conducted when and where required, relies on far fewer raw materials and supply partners, and enables the consolidation of multiple parts, it is helping many OEMs to both streamline and reduce the environmental footprint of their supply chains.
By reducing the emission-heavy manufacture and shipment of materials and parts across the globe, AM contributes to manufacturers’ Scope 3 emissions targets focused on lowering emissions across the value chain.
One of the most exciting benefits of additive manufacturing is the ability to significantly reduce the weight of components while simultaneously making them stronger.
Component lightweighting is achieved through varied material selection, the 3D printing process, the ability to print previously ‘impossible’ part geometries and the consolidation of multiple parts into one.
Lightweighting has become a top value driver for many OEMs embarking on the AM journey – particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries where there is a critical focus on creating more environmentally friendly, lower emission and fuel efficient vehicles and planes.
Strong, unique and more durable parts
AM enables the creation of a multitude of once-impossible parts with durable, complex geometries similar to what can be seen in nature – organic, fluid shapes that can often withstand harsh conditions. It also allows the consolidation of multiple parts into one streamlined component, with enhanced reliability and fewer, if any, joints and fastener connections. The result is stronger, more durable and longer lasting components that deliver better performance.
Better component designs
Through Design for AM (DfAM), design rules are developed to ensure AM parts meet OEM objectives and specifications, and that it can be produced at scale. This ensures the right materials, quantities and processes are used to scale the component – avoiding costly and wasteful technological, process, quality and financial obstacles and driving improvements in efficiency, print quality and durability.
Reduced tooling requirements
AM builds components from the ground up based on specifications outlined in digital files – allowing for limitless customization. Unhindered by the tooling requirements of traditional manufacturing, AM eliminates the materials, energy, emissions and significant time and expense involved in building custom tooling for every unique part.
AM relies on digital design files that can be adjusted as many times as required before arriving at a final design specification for print – driving far more efficient, cost effective and eco-friendly prototyping. AM eliminates the need for iterative physical prototypes – greatly reducing the use of materials and energy while enabling shorter development cycles.
Eco-friendly product innovations
By enabling lighter, stronger and more complex parts than traditional manufacturing methods, AM provides the unique components required for OEM’s increasingly eco-friendly innovations. For example, AM components can be leveraged to build lighter, more eco-friendly vehicles with longer battery life and/or better fuel efficiency – enabling significant reductions in carbon emissions.
Reduced transportation and shipping
The on-demand model of AM drastically reduces the shipment and transport of raw materials, components and finished products around the globe. That’s because AM only uses digital design files and powders to create cutting edge component designs when and where OEMs need them. This greatly reduces the greenhouse gas emissions generated by ground, air and other methods of transportation required to move traditionally manufactured raw materials and products along the value chain.
And because AM printed components are far lighter than traditional components, they decrease carbon emissions and fuel consumption when shipped to their final destination.
Extended lifespan of end-use products
When critical components become obsolete, it can be impossible to extend the lifespan of products, equipment or vehicles by simply replacing a worn-out part. This results in otherwise high-functioning products being sent to scrap yards or landfill unnecessarily.
With AM, almost any part with a design file can be printed on demand – keeping products and equipment going for much longer by making repair and refurbishment a valid option and diverting products from landfill.
Reduced factory emissions & noise pollution
Because AM equipment can print a wide range of parts, each 3D printer can replace multiple pieces of machinery required for traditional manufacturing. Not only does this reduce the number of machines running in a factory, when combined with a reduction in on-site warehousing requirements, the AM factory both quieter and more energy efficient.
The Green Future of AM
AM is not only an enabling force of Industry 4.0 and the digital future of manufacturing, it clearly also has a significant role to play in reducing the environmental impact of products, manufacturing processes and global supply chains – today and in the future.
While the AM industry is already helping to drive many environmental benefits, there is much opportunity ahead to build on this solid foundation – reducing the environmental impact of OEM customers and the AM industry as a whole.
As the industry matures, AM partners will begin to assess and balance the total cost of ownership and environmental footprint of AM across the entire value chain – with a goal of contributing to a circular economy that considers everything from materials sourcing and selection, to manufacturing processes and equipment, to logistics and component end-of-life and recycling.
Whatever the future brings, Burloak Technologies is passionately committed to working with our OEM partners – and across the entire ecosystem – to contribute to the green future of AM.