18.10.2021 - 11:42

“Life-Cycle Assessment” in Additive Manufacturing: Laser Powder Bed Fusion Goes Green

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT are addressing the topic of life-cycle assessment in Laser Powder Bed Fusion.

The Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) process can be used to manufacture complex functional components economically while making efficient use of resources. Furthermore, the production costs of LPBF do not depend on a component’s complexity, but to a large extent on its volume. The powder bed-based additive manufacturing process offers a number of advantages compared to conventional techniques. It is suitable for applications in turbomachinery construction, aerospace and automotive engineering. In medical technology, it enables technicians to manufacture a high number of variants, while in the automotive industry, for example, it allows engineers to produce function-optimized components in small batches. As this process increasingly penetrates numerous markets, however, industry and thus application-oriented research and development are confronted with questions about its ecological footprint.

Sustainability to be addressed in the development of process and system technology
The Laser Powder Bed Fusion competence field at Fraunhofer ILT has set itself a goal of increasingly addressing sustainability in the development of process and system technology. To do this, the institute is systematically analyzing the process chain within the its own LPBF process, for example, with regard to energy consumption, the resulting CO2 emissions and further metrics. In this context, the researchers look at the resource flow from the production of the powder material to the finished component

In addition to examining sustainability, Fraunhofer ILT is striving to increase networking with other research partners and industrial companies, all of whom have committed themselves to “life-cycle assessment.” Worthy of mention here is the institute’s membership in the “Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA)” and participation in the EU research program “Clean Sky 2,” which aims to significantly reduce the ecological impact of aviation on our living space.


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