Achieving Sustainability with Additive Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing has become critical in securing a competitive advantage. Discover what’s in it for manufacturers and how they can shift to this manufacturing technique seamlessly.

Sustainability as a Business Strategy

The increasing importance of sustainability has caused a shift in the global value chain. There is growing public pressure for manufacturers to introduce more visibility into their products’ sourcing and production processes. Sustainability is no longer a long-term goal but a strategic imperative.

However, it is not just about the linear supply chain. According to the PwC report, Transportation & Logistics 2030, permanent exposure to emissions charges and rising oil prices would become key factors in the transport and logistics sector. Therefore, it is imperative for manufacturers to pay close attention to the total energy consumption, supply chain requirement and overall environmental impact of their products.

This is where additive manufacturing (AM) can play a crucial role. From our experience of offering powerful AM support through the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, we have seen our customers consistently deliver products that consume less material, produce less waste, cost less and function better than their conventional counterparts.

How Additive Manufacturing Further Enables Sustainability

Manufacturers who are seeking to become more sustainable can do so by reducing their inventory, lowering energy consumption and lessening transportation requirements. Let’s have a closer look at the broad range of benefits that can be derived through AM in this area:

  • Reduction in material waste and energy usage

With AM, manufacturers can develop optimized design dimensions that minimize waste and reduce energy consumption. Parts can be created entirely bespoke to suit customer needs, so there is no need for wasteful large-batch production. AM also allows raw materials to be stored in a more condensed fashion. There is no longer a need for vast quantities of metal scrap that can quickly take up inventory space. Raw materials can be recycled or converted into AM-grade powder, reducing the needed storage space while raising the material value.1

  • Reduction in carbon footprint

AM can play a key role in reducing manufacturing carbon emissions by affecting both the manner and diversity of products manufacturers can produce. Less material usage and less transportation is needed because parts can instead be made in-house instead of imported. Complex parts can also be printed in one piece, eliminating the need to produce multiple parts that are assembled later. This significantly minimizes factory on-time and transportation requirements.

  • Lighter, more efficient parts

Weight reduction is a constant key issue, driven both by fuel cost and carbon footprint. By utilizing AM technologies, vehicle manufacturers can develop lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles through innovative design features like lattices that are difficult to create with traditional manufacturing methods. These changes can add up; in the aerospace sector, weight reduction from AM processes can result in energy savings of up to 25 percent.2 Additionally, each kilogram (2.2 lbs) of weight loss on a flight can save up to US$3,000 in fuel annually.3

  • Mass personalization

With AM, manufacturers can offer more variations on a given product without additional tooling or other infrastructure investment. In a sense, 3D printing is digital manufacturing. Sufficient input data, paired with software manipulation, can be converted into a file that’s ready to be used for AM. Manufacturers can combine this information with customer input to produce items ranging from rings and furniture created with parametric design tools to shoe insoles based on the customer’s biometric measurements.

Additive Manufacturing Powered By the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

AM supports ongoing product development and flexible changes that empower product stakeholders to arrive at better products more quickly. The right digital business platform can significantly speed up this process. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables manufacturers to seamlessly merge design, simulation, and manufacturing, opening new product development opportunities.

For example, manufacturers can anticipate the cost of part production while taking into account print speed, the number of parts printed and the size of the printable parts. They can also ensure parts are made of high-quality materials through better control of the manufacturing parameters, without sacrificing quality control. Additionally, manufacturers can also model components and parts digitally within a single virtual environment. This allows for greater accountability and traceability of all design changes between stakeholders, and reduces the possibility of intellectual property counterfeiting.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps manufacturers visualize their machines working together with materials, and enables them to calculate the right parameters for production. This information can then be shared across the enterprise, allowing for reliable and trustworthy operating wherever the component is printed.

Sustainability will soon become a core tenet of manufacturing, thanks to more powerful and less expensive AM technologies. By utilizing solutions that cover the full breadth of AM processes built right into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, our customers have been able to implement — and enjoy the full benefits of — sustainable manufacturing with minimal impact to their product development workflows.

Plan to Succeed, Execute to Win

Despite the many benefits offered by additive manufacturing, a few hurdles hold back manufacturers from successfully executing their initiatives. Download this whitepaper to identify and avoid the pitfalls that can stop you from successfully executing your AM initiative.

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