Additive Manufacturing and Production of Metallic Parts in Automotive Industry : A Case Study on Technical, Economic and Environmental Sustainability Aspects
Additive Manufacturing (AM) comprises a family of different technologies that build up parts by adding materials layer by layer at a time based on a digital 3D solid model. After thirty years of development, AM has become a mainstream manufacturing process with more materials and new technologies involved in this process. Undoubtedly, the most dramatic and challenging development of group of technologies has been the printing of metals. Nowadays, the use of AM for the production of parts for final products continues to grow. Organizations around the world are successfully applying the technology to the production of finished goods. AM allows design optimization and produces customized parts on-demand with almost similar material properties with the conventional manufactured parts. It does not require the use of coolants, fixtures, cutting tools and other assisting resources. The advantages of AM over conventional manufacturing can change the world of industry and lead to a new industrial revolution. In this research after reviewing mostly the different technologies and materials used in metallic AM, the application of them in a component of a passenger car engine is described. A criticality analysis is carried out in order to decide which AM development of the parts that compose the final product is more significant for the efficiency of the overall product. Based on that development a sustainability analysis is performed consisting of the analysis of the environmental impacts, the production cost analysis and the societal impact. But what has been derived from the analysis is that despite the lower environmental impact compared with the casting as a conventional method of forming of metals, AM is costly for the production of a small number of industrial products and its societal impact needs further investigation. In fact, the cost depends on the production volume, the batch size as well as the high price of the material powders and the building rates of the machines. In the future, with more advanced machines and cheaper material input the cost of metallic AM is going to drop dramatically. In spite of all the progress, the application of metallic AM is still not widespread. Since the materials as well as its technologies are still evolving, a better and more promising future is foreseen for metallic AM.
Keywords: Additive Manufacturing, Direct Digital Manufacturing, Mass Production, Automotive, Internal Combustion Engine, Turbocharger, Development, Sustainability Analysis, Lifecycle Assessment
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