The Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) welcomed eight new member organizations adding to its list of 12 additive manufacturing (AM) companies aligned with the organization’s commitment to promoting the sustainability of additive technology within key industries. AM has been rapidly developing over the last decade and shows excellent potential to reduce the need for energy- and resource-intensive manufacturing processes. The overwhelmingly growing demand for green manufacturing has led AMGTA to carry out research initiatives to understand the environmental impacts of metal AM, the carbon footprint of 3D printing in aircraft systems, and 3D opportunities for life cycle assessments.
As AMGTA continues to expand, commissioning even more research projects, we will see AM firms flocking to its member ranks. Joining as a new founding member is ExOne, a pioneer and global leader in industrial sand and metal 3D printers that seeks to support rigorous and independent research into the sustainability aspects of 3D printing. ExOne believes its binder jetting technology is a sustainable manufacturing method that reduces material waste to less than 5%, saves energy by consolidating many assembled parts and processes into one, and can deliver end-user products between 30 to 40 percent lighter. The technology can help make more efficient cars, planes, and military equipment.
According to the company, independent research has already verified the environmental benefit of binder jet 3D printing in some respects, including work that suggests the process has an overall efficiency of material consumption up to 96% for 316L stainless steel. However, ExOne considers that there is still a lot of work ahead to assess or quantify the impact of powder creation, energy usage, emissions, and the benefit of consolidating many parts into single components optimized for lightweight. Additional work on how 3D printing could deliver environmental benefits through decentralized supply chains is also needed, said ExOne. These concerns could be addressed in future research work proposed by AMGTA.
“ExOne is excited to join with other manufacturing and technology companies through the AMGTA to support independent research into the sustainability aspects of 3D printing,” said John Hartner, ExOne’s CEO, who will now also serve on the Board of Directors for AMGTA. “While our team at ExOne is confident about the broad sustainability benefits of our binder jetting technology, our customers are eager to have independent data that demonstrates these benefits through the whole end-to-end life cycle.”
As a founding member, ExOne will serve alongside leading independent metal AM provider Sintavia; Japanese supplier of stable industrial gases, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation, and Sintavia subsidiary QC Laboratories, an industrial and commercial non-destructive testing space focused on AM components.
The co-founding companies will determine the strategic direction of the AMGTA, provide governance oversight, and consider future research projects that members may vote to commission. AMGTA’s Executive Director, Sherry Handel, said the new participating members’ support of the organization’s mission would help it grow and fund new sustainability research projects in AM. Handel is also looking forward to expanding the global trade group as a “key industry resource in advancing sustainability in the AM industry.”
Additionally, many companies are joining the AMGTA network as participating members. These include four German-based companies and institutes. Global businesses BASF 3D Printing Solutions, provider of AM materials and strategies under the Forward AM brand; TRUMPF, an industrial machine manufacturing company and laser provider for AM, and DyeMansion, a supplier of automated post-processing workflows for industrial polymer 3D printing. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), one of the world’s leading research sites in the field of laser-based AM, will also be a newcomer to AMGTA.
Other global leading AM companies that are now participating members are HP, a strategic 3D printing and digital manufacturing solutions provider; AM aluminum powder designer Rusal America, and 6K, a renowned metal powder producer that is setting a new AM “green” standard by leveraging sustainable sources as feedstock for premium powder production with its UniMelt platform. These new Participating Members will serve alongside AMEXCI AB, Danish AM Hub, EOS, GE Additive, Materialise, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, Siemens Digital Industries Software, SLM Solutions, and Stryker.
Launched in November 2019 to promote the environmental benefits of AM over traditional manufacturing methods, the AMGTA is a non-commercial, unaffiliated industry trade group open to any additive manufacturer or industry stakeholder that meets specific criteria relating to the sustainability of production or process. To provide the industry with much-needed research, AMGTA intends to publish findings and share them with members, industry, and the public to generate awareness about AM’s inherent environmental benefits, while also revealing areas where the sector needs to improve.
The organization is currently working with a major U.S. research university, said Handel in an interview with Women In 3D Printing, to commission a true life cycle analysis of an AM aerospace component, compared to an identical cast version. This groundbreaking research could be completed by 2022 and will be one of the first real Life Cycle Assessments that has ever been conducted directly comparing an additive part to a cast part.
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