New EOS Responsible Manufacturing Portfolio Includes Material Recycling and Reduced-CO2 Aluminum

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Members of the additive manufacturing industry often tout the technology’s green credentials, but only pay lip service to inherent issues with energy use and material sourcing. EOS is doing more than mere sloganeering with its new Responsible Manufacturing portfolio of products. It has introduced VIRTUCYCLE, a project that involves taking back waste powder and converting it into injection molding pellets, as well as a new reduced-carbon aluminum product.

Responsible Aluminum

EOS Aluminum AlSi10Mg is now made from 30% recycled feedstock and offers a 25% reduction in CO2e emissions. Despite these changes, the material maintains the same performance and properties as the previously used aluminum. Users can simply switch to the new material without having to change any settings or requalify parts.

“Our commitment to offering responsible products that support AM production is growing to include our metal materials. We are striving to create carbon footprint transparency for our premium metal materials. These externally verified numbers are also providing transparency to our customers by including these materials in our Carbon Calculator, furthering sustainability initiatives for both our customers and for EOS,” says Sophia Heyl, Product Specialist for Metal Materials at EOS.

The Carbon Calculator tool mentioned is indeed a handy tool. You can experiment with the basic version for free, but the full version requires a subscription costing $1,250 per year. I encourage you to try it out, as it offers an insightful way to see how the cost per part fluctuates with changes in various elements. You can observe how machine costs, materials, and post-processing expenses stack up and vary with different variables. If you’re a service provider or regularly make parts or order them from others, this tool is invaluable for understanding cost components. Additionally, the tool helps in identifying opportunities to save on carbon emissions and reduce part costs.

Hydro and Novelis offer low-carbon aluminum products, while Outokumpu and companies like Tata are developing low-carbon steel. For the steel industry, it is estimated that producing low-carbon steel would require doubling the industry’s electricity use. There is a genuine movement toward this goal, but it will require significant effort to achieve.

VIRTUCYCLE

VIRTUCYCLE is a new project being launched by EOS, which utilizes Arkema’s Agiplast product family. This initiative employs 100% sustainable energy to transform waste powder into injection molding pellets. An externally conducted life cycle analysis has concluded that converting 1kg of polymer material into 0.945 kg of granules saves approximately 7kg of CO2e when compared to using solely virgin new material. Other products in the Responsible portfolio include a climate-neutral PA 11 and PA 2200 with reduced carbon emissions.

I am delighted that we are continuing our way towards Responsible Manufacturing and expanding our portfolio of Responsible Products stepwise. By minimizing waste, reducing the environmental footprint and prioritizing eco-friendly materials, organizations can both protect our planet and create a more efficient and resilient business model,” said Björn Hannappel, Head of Sustainability at EOS.

Conclusion

I appreciate that EOS’ sustainable products are easy to implement. There are no significant changes required if you choose to use this new aluminum over the previous one. As a service, you could offer it to an entrepreneur or business client on an as-needed basis. If someone wants to make a low-carbon, environmentally friendly car part or some limited run of parts for a small series, it’s entirely feasible. This ease of implementation will likely accelerate adoption and enable straightforward, cost-effective trials. Given the real demand from consumers and entrepreneurs for more sustainable products, which is also seen as a benefit to the product itself, this could drive further demand.

It would be interesting to see if EOS will expand its Responsible Manufacturing portfolio to include steels and titanium. A low-carbon, responsible titanium jewelry line, for example, would indeed be an excellent idea and could appeal to a broad audience.

Will big users adopt this? Many are skeptical; we expect the product to be more expensive, and many businesses are hesitant to incur additional costs. However, large businesses are also increasingly committed to sustainability targets. By simplifying the switch, EOS enables this transition. The VIRTUCYCLE product is a no-brainer for many. Currently, a lot of people throw away castoff powder and have to pay to dispose of it, so a product like this could easily make sense to many. I really love the cost calculation tool and think these products are nice initiatives. Will we all switch to more sustainable practices? I think as individuals we should be optimistic, but as business people, many are more reserved about the broader adoption of more sustainable products, which is, of course, a crying shame.

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