Tag Archives: sustainability

New Bit by Bit visitor: Cecilia Maria Angioletti

We’re pleased to welcome Cecilia Maria Angioletti as a visitor to the Bit by Bit project to continue investigations into the sustainability implications of 3D printing.Cecilia Angioletti

Cecilia is currently undertaking her doctoral studies in Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, Italy. She gained her Master’s degree with specialisation on production engineering, operations management, corporate strategy and economics. In her Master’s thesis she investigated the location choices of foreign multinational companies through greenfield investments. The implementation of an econometric model supported the empirical analysis.

In her current research Cecilia is looking into how industrial systems can become more resource efficient and sustainable. Specifically, she is focusing on the opportunities for improvements offered by additive manufacturing technologies and how adopting these technologies could enable the implementation of the circular economy paradigm. The promise of additive manufacturing can be seen throughout the product lifecycle: it is claimed that it can reduce energy and material consumption through maintenance, re-use, rework recycling, waste reduction strategies that close the loop. For manufacturing firms, it is thought that adopting additive manufacturing technology will provide an opportunity to enhance their sustainability performance through efficiency improvements that both reduce operating costs and improve competitive advantage.

Despite the significant body of research and evaluation methodologies for sustainability, including life cycle analyses, process optimisation, waste management and environmental protection, there remains scare concrete evidence of the resource efficiency benefits of additive manufacturing. Accordingly, Cecilia is probing into these claims, and in her current project she developed a quantitative assessment tool. While she’s with us in Cambridge she’ll use this tool to analyse to what degree the adoption of additive manufacturing supports the more efficient use of materials and energy.

[Image source: Cecilia Maria Angioletti]

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Material Makespaces and the Circular Economy workshop in London

Join 3D printing and other digital fabrication companies, makers, and researchers on November 9th at Fab Lab London to explore how to gather data about materials in makespaces, and how this data can help you source and cycle materials.  We will be unveiling our open source universal testing machine that can measure mechanical properties of materials, and inviting you to use it and make one of your own. RSVP by emailing RSVP: Alysia Garmulewicz.

The workshop is a joint collaboration between the University of Oxford Department of Engineering, Fab Lab London, Wevolver, and the Ethical Filament Foundation. The workshop is part of the research program of Future Makespaces in Redistributed Manufacturing run by the Royal College of Arts and supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It can be accessed as an open mic session that is part of the Disruptive Innovation Festival.materialmakespaces_finalagenda

3D printing and circular economy

Following our earlier post about our paper being accepted, we’re pleased to see that Unlocking value for a circular economy through 3D printing: a research agendais now online in pre-publication format. If you haven’t taken a look at it yet, maybe you should do now?

Unlocking value for a circular economy through 3D printing: a research agenda

Mélanie Despeisse, Martin Baumers, Phil Brown, Fiona Charnley, Simon Ford, Alysia Garmulewicz, Scott Knowles, Tim Minshall, Letizia Mortara, Felix Reed-Tsochas and Jonathan Rowley

Abstract

The circular economy (CE) aims to radically improve resource efficiency by eliminating the concept of waste and leading to a shift away from the linear take-make-waste model. In a CE, resources are flowing in a circular manner either in a biocycle (biomass) or technocycle (inorganic materials). While early studies indicate that 3D printing (3DP) holds substantial promise for sustainability and the creation of a CE, there is no guarantee that it will do so. There is great uncertainty regarding whether the current trajectory of 3DP adoption is creating more circular material flows or if it is leading to an alternative scenario in which less eco-efficient localised production, demands for customised goods, and a higher rate of product obsolescence combine to bring about increased resource consumption. It is critical that CE principles are embedded into the new manufacturing system before the adoption of 3DP reaches a critical inflection point in which negative practices become entrenched. This paper, authored by both academic and industry experts, proposes a research agenda to determine enablers and barriers for 3DP to achieve a CE. We explore the two following overarching questions to discover what specific issues they entail: (1) How can a more distributed manufacturing system based on 3DP create a circular economy of closed-loop material flows? (2) What are the barriers to a circular 3D printing economy? We specifically examine six areas—design, supply chains, information flows, entrepreneurship, business models and education—with the aim of formulating a research agenda to enable 3DP to reach its full potential for a CE.

[Image source: Mélanie Despeisse]

3D printing and sustainability article published in Journal of Cleaner Production

We’re delighted to announce that Simon Ford and Mélanie Despeisse’s paper “Additive manufacturing and sustainability: an exploratory study of the advantages and challenges” has now been published in volume 137 of the Journal of Cleaner Production.

As our project is funded by the EPSRC, the article is open access so free to download. So please download and read the paper and then let us know what you think.

Abstract

The emergence of advanced manufacturing technologies, coupled with consumer demands for more customised products and services, are causing shifts in the scale and distribution of manufacturing. In this paper, consideration is given to the role of one such advanced manufacturing process technology: additive manufacturing. The consequences of adopting this novel production technology on industrial sustainability are not well understood and this exploratory study draws on publically available data to provide insights into the impacts of additive manufacturing on sustainability. Benefits are found to exist across the product and material life cycles through product and process redesign, improvements to material input processing, make-to-order component and product manufacturing, and closing the loop. As an immature technology, there are substantial challenges to these benefits being realised at each stage of the life cycle. This paper summarises these advantages and challenges, and discusses the implications of additive manufacturing on sustainability in terms of the sources of innovation, business models, and the configuration of value chains.

Download the paper here.

[Image source: Mélanie Despeisse]

3D Printing and the Circular Economy paper accepted for publication

The Bit by Bit team are very pleased to announce that our paper on 3D printing and the circular economy, Unlocking value for a circular economy through 3D printing: a research agenda, has been accepted for publication in Technological Forecasting & Social Change.

As we previously commented, the paper is the result of continued collaboration following an unsuccessful funding application to the EPSRC. With eleven authors, the paper draws together knowledge from a range of fields – business models, design, education, entrepreneurship, information science, and supply chains – and involves both academic and practitioner perspectives.  We’re very pleased that the ideas we developed and our proposed research agenda have found an outlet in this journal. Click here to read the pre-publication copy of the paper.

Unlocking value for a circular economy through 3D printing: a research agenda

Mélanie Despeisse, Martin Baumers, Phil Brown, Fiona Charnley, Simon Ford, Alysia Garmulewicz, Scott Knowles, Tim Minshall, Letizia Mortara, Felix Reed-Tsochas and Jonathan Rowley

Abstract

The circular economy (CE) aims to radically improve resource efficiency by eliminating the concept of waste and leading to a shift away from the linear take-make-waste model. In a CE, resources are flowing in a circular manner either in a biocycle (biomass) or technocycle (inorganic materials). While early studies indicate that 3D printing (3DP) holds substantial promise for sustainability and the creation of a CE, there is no guarantee that it will do so. There is great uncertainty regarding whether the current trajectory of 3DP adoption is creating more circular material flows or if it is leading to an alternative scenario in which less eco-efficient localised production, demands for customised goods, and a higher rate of product obsolescence combine to bring about increased resource consumption. It is critical that CE principles are embedded into the new manufacturing system before the adoption of 3DP reaches a critical inflection point in which negative practices become entrenched. This paper, authored by both academic and industry experts, proposes a research agenda to determine enablers and barriers for 3DP to achieve a CE. We explore the two following overarching questions to discover what specific issues they entail: (1) How can a more distributed manufacturing system based on 3DP create a circular economy of closed-loop material flows? (2) What are the barriers to a circular 3D printing economy? We specifically examine six areas—design, supply chains, information flows, entrepreneurship, business models and education—with the aim of formulating a research agenda to enable 3DP to reach its full potential for a CE.

[Image source: Mélanie Despeisse]