How can the sustainability of 3D printing be determined at the AM Summit Denmark 2023?


Time is ticking! Hurry and make your nominations for the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2023. Is 3D printing really sustainable? Well, that’s a controversial question that was discussed at the AM Summit 2023, Scandinavia’s biggest additive manufacturing conference. The event, held in Copenhagen, brought together industry experts to delve into various topics, including sustainability and 3D printing. The debate centered around the meaning of sustainability in additive manufacturing and whether 3D printing can truly be considered sustainable.

Michael Hauschild (PhD), Head of DTU Centre for Absolute Sustainability, pointed out a significant problem – everyone talks about sustainability, but nobody really knows if it’s genuinely sustainable or just more sustainable than other methods. This uncertainty only adds to the confusion surrounding the sustainability of 3D printing.

The conference wasn’t just about discussion; it also featured panel discussions on important subjects. One of the highlights was the evaluation of Danish AM Hub’s CO2e carbon emissions calculator and insights into digital distributed manufacturing.

Danish AM Hub has developed its own CO2e calculator to demonstrate the sustainability benefits of 3D printing compared to traditional manufacturing methods. The tool was a result of a groundbreaking initiative by the company, aiming to shift the conversation in manufacturing to include sustainability alongside efficiency and time.

The CO2e calculator is designed to provide a simple and clear measure of the difference between traditional manufacturing processes and 3D printing. It quantifies the amount of CO2 saved or gained by using additive manufacturing, making it easier to understand the environmental impact.

Developed in collaboration with the Copenhagen-based Implement Consulting Group, the CO2e calculator takes into account all stages of a product’s life cycle, from raw materials to transportation and end-of-life disposal. Its simplicity makes it accessible to both industry professionals and consumers.

Niklas Franke, Head of AM and Production Simulation at Danfoss, shared a case study demonstrating the calculator’s usefulness. Danfoss, a Denmark-based manufacturer, used the tool to analyze the environmental impact of a metal crossbar component used in their production process. By switching from CNC machining to 3D printing, Danfoss managed to reduce the number of parts, eliminate steel in favor of aluminum, and achieve a significant weight reduction per tool. The CO2e calculator confirmed that this change resulted in a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Tools like the CO2e calculator are crucial for promoting sustainability in additive manufacturing. They allow manufacturers to assess the environmental impact of their processes and make informed decisions to reduce their carbon footprint. Ultimately, it is these efforts that will contribute to a more sustainable future for the 3D printing industry.

So, as we continue to explore the potential of 3D printing, let’s not forget the importance of sustainability. It’s time to change our behavior and prioritize eco-friendly practices in manufacturing. With tools like the CO2e calculator, we can make informed choices and pave the way for a greener future.

A new tool called the CO2e calculator is revolutionizing the way companies like Zenvo Automotive A/S assess the sustainability of their 3D printing processes. Previously, Zenvo had never considered the environmental impact of their 3D printed suspension upright components for their TSR-S sports cars. However, with the CO2e calculator, they were able to see the weight savings offered by additive manufacturing compared to traditional sand casting techniques.

The calculator showed that the 3D printed parts saved 800 grams per component, which adds up to a significant weight reduction when you consider that there are four of these parts on each vehicle. This weight savings translates to cost savings for Zenvo, making the use of 3D printing a financially viable option for them.

But while the CO2e calculator is a useful tool for comparing the sustainability of different manufacturing methods, it cannot measure absolute sustainability. According to experts at the DTU Centre for Absolute Sustainability, true sustainability should be measured against specific benchmarks, such as the targets outlined in The Paris Agreement. These benchmarks include limiting global warming, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and achieving carbon neutrality.

Additionally, one of the challenges in assessing sustainability lies in the quality of data used in life cycle assessments (LCA). It is crucial to have accurate and reliable data to determine the environmental impact of manufacturing processes and materials. If the data is inadequate, time and effort must be invested in improving the data quality.

Another topic discussed at the AM Summit was the decentralization of supply chains through distributed digital manufacturing (DDM). This approach aims to make supply chains more resilient and sustainable by enabling decentralized production of spare parts. Currently, only a fraction of Danish businesses have adopted 3D printing within their value chains, but there is potential for growth.

Overall, the CO2e calculator is a valuable tool for comparing the sustainability of different manufacturing methods, but it is important to consider absolute sustainability and specific benchmarks when assessing the environmental impact of 3D printing. Additionally, the decentralization of supply chains through digital distributed manufacturing can lead to more resilient and sustainable value chains.

The world of manufacturing is constantly evolving, and one major advancement that has gained significant attention is Distributed Digital Manufacturing (DDM). This innovative approach utilizes additive manufacturing and digitization to revolutionize supply chains and offer a range of benefits such as increased flexibility, resilience, and sustainability.

According to industry experts, the shift towards DDM is driven by a variety of factors, including global pressures and supply chain shortages. Pieter Ruijssenaars, CEO of DiManEx, highlights the importance of decentralized production in mitigating the impact of social, political, and natural disasters that may disrupt physical supply chains. Additionally, Ruijssenaars emphasizes the role of DDM in creating a more sustainable world and achieving cost savings in the supply chain.

One key concern when it comes to implementing DDM is intellectual property (IP) and information security. With data being shared across the globe in a distributed manufacturing setup, ensuring the protection of IP becomes crucial. Software plays a critical role in securing this data, as highlighted by Jesper Winther Andersen, CEO and Founder of Earfab. Collaborations between companies like Materialise and Identify3D are exploring the use of blockchain and digital rights management to safeguard IP.

Scalability is another important aspect of DDM, with software acting as a bridge for interconnectivity. Jeremy Haight, Chief Principal Engineer at Vestas Wind Systems, emphasizes the significance of software in achieving scalability and adaptability. The ability to use one technology for multiple purposes or produce different components is essential for streamlining the value chain.

Looking ahead, Ruijssenaars predicts two immediate developments in the realm of DDM. Firstly, he expects to see more hybrid versions of DDM tailored to specific business use cases, with companies increasingly adopting local 3D printing. Secondly, Ruijssenaars anticipates the growth and utilization of large language models like ChatGPT, which can enhance analytics and provide more intelligent insights.

Distributed Digital Manufacturing presents a promising future for the manufacturing industry, offering enhanced resilience, sustainability, and efficiency. As this technology continues to advance, it is crucial for companies to stay updated and adapt to the changing landscape of supply chains.

To stay informed about the latest news in the 3D printing industry, subscribe to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter or follow their social media channels. And if you’re interested in a career in additive manufacturing, be sure to check out the available roles on 3D Printing Jobs.

Original source


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