“Industrial ecology” may seem like an oxymoron, but it is also an extremely important framework for estimating the long-term sustainability of business models fundamental to the critical infrastructure of any economy. The Yale Center for Industrial Ecology is one of those rare “centers” these days that can truly be the center of what it claims to be the center for. So, it’s significant enough for the 3D printing industry as a whole that the Center for Industrial Ecology recently received $ 100,000 from the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association. The money will be used to conduct life cycle assessment (LCA) research for comparative analyzes of the durability of 3D printed metal components against their conventionally manufactured counterparts.
One hundred thousand dollars may not seem like much at this point in the history of an industry where throwing millions of dollars has become so commonplace. But each investment phase is different: the thing to pay attention to is not necessarily the size of the investment, especially in the pure R&D phase. Equally important is paying attention to past research cycles, and in that sense AMGTA is certainly putting its money where its mouth is. In the trade association’s first report on the same topic, published about a year ago, AMGTA concluded by recommending the exact type of studies it just funded at Yale: LCA research, particularly related to technologies like binder jet.
Essentially, the goal of LCA research is to measure the environmental impact of a product at every phase of its existence. For example, Dutch researchers published LCA assessments of 3D printing concrete in the summer of 2019, finding that 3D printed concrete molds generally performed better, but were not necessarily more environmentally friendly at produce. This kind of data is essential for the future of the industry, not only to highlight areas that need to be improved to make the technology viable for commercial purposes, but – just as critical – to highlight areas where others should pay attention. researchers.
So the fact that AMGTA discovered in the aforementioned study from a year ago that 3D printing is not equally sustainable in all areas of use, means that Yale’s money will likely be the best way to advance what AMGTA has already found: that the most promising use of technology for sustainability purposes, especially regarding metallic AM (as will be studied with the fund at Yale) , is located in the aerospace sector. This is especially true given the fact that the Governor of Connecticut – where Yale is located – recently announced that six state-owned companies, including aerospace companies Burke Aerospace and Beacon Industries, will receive $ 100,000 in matching grants for everything. investment in new AM equipment equal to or greater than $ 100,000. . So, in addition to being such a distinguished institution both inside and outside the 3D printing realm, Yale is uniquely positioned to study the sustainability of metallic AM in the aviation and space industry. .
It is particularly noteworthy that AMGTA is working with Yale, given the joint study the institution carried out with two other universities in 2018, which said it was “too early” to label AM as “technology. green ”. This means that the trade association is serious about changing this and is ready to invest in doing so. In addition, setting a precedent in the field of research is particularly important when it comes to evaluating stroke: the quality of the data being so dependent on the types of studies performed, the studies are affected, even more so. in most other types of research, by previous studies by other researchers.
Such a large proportion of the 3D printing industry is still in the pure research phase that any continuity of results will surely resonate more widely than it would in areas with greater longevity, which are easier to test. . If Yale reinforces the results of the previous AMGTA study, it seems likely that we will start to see more similar ACV evaluations in the near future. At this point, any information that can be gathered on the subject will be welcome, because the sooner we know about the sustainability of AF in the present, the easier it will be to improve it in the future.