Gaining a better understanding of the implications of additive manufacturing on sustainability is something of great interest to us on the Bit by Bit project. Today I’m pleased to share with you a working paper that has recently been published in the Centre for Technology Management’s working paper series: “The Role of Additive Manufacturing in Improving Resource Efficiency and Sustainability” by Mélanie Despeisse and Simon Ford. Click here to access.
Additive manufacturing is heralded as a revolutionary process technology. While it has yet to cause a dramatic transformation of the manufacturing system, there are early signs of how the characteristics of this novel production process can improve resource efficiency and other sustainability aspects. In this paper, we draw on examples from a wide range of products and industries to understand the role of additive manufacturing in sustainable industrial systems. We identify four main areas in which the adoption of additive manufacturing is leading to improved resource efficiency: (1) product and process design; (2) material input processing; (3) make-to-order product and component manufacturing; and (4) closing the loop.
Keywords: Additive manufacturing, 3D printing, sustainability