“Green Additive Manufacturing”
Within the framework of European regulations on reducing the ecological impact of industrial processes and products, companies are taking initiatives to reduce the volume of waste material and the energy consumption of their processes. For 3D printing technologies, it is generally assumed that these are more durable than conventional technologies, due to a lower amount of material required for the printed pieces. But there is still no demonstrable evidence based on clear criteria and data.
The GreenAM ICON-project will develop new life cycle methodologies to quantify the sustainability of AM processes in a consistent and systematic way based on material flows, sustainable raw materials and the energy efficiency of the AM processes. This sustainability measure will contribute to more energy-efficient AM processes using an important percentage of reusable materials (polyamide, aluminum) for pure raw materials. Now about 50% of the printed material powder ends up in the waste stream. The properties of printed powder have been partially degraded by the thermomechanical load during the printing process, preventing it from being reused as such. There will be also investigated how the properties of the polyamide powder can be upgraded after the printing process so that it can be reused in the next print run. Another objective of the project is to make the laser printing processes more energy efficient through newly developed technologies, which use lasers at lower temperatures. And a third objective is to examine the symbiosis between materials derived from different conventional industrial processes and their reuse in AM technologies. Specifically, alternative aluminum sources (scrap, cast aluminum pieces, aluminum waste from the aircraft industry) will be investigated for their potential employability for AM processes based on the required material properties.
The overall objective of the GreenAM project is to develop more sustainable AM processes, that use less energy and material.