Ex-ante life cycle assessment of directed energy deposition based additive manufacturing: A comparative gearbox production case study


Santiago-Herrera M., Igos E., Alegre J.M., Martel-Martín S., Barros R.


Sustainable Materials and Technologies, vol. 39, art. no. e00819, 2024


As new technologies emerge is necessary to assess if they can actually contribute to sustainable improvement of industrial processes. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a valuable tool to determine environmental impacts and compare systems. However, this comparison raises challenges when they have different maturity. This paper performs ex-ante LCA of an additive manufacturing (AM) technology, based on a step-wise approach built with parametrized modelling, allowing fair comparison with its conventional counterpart, for the study case of a gearbox component. Results show that AM technology generates higher impacts than conventional manufacturing (CM) casting process, using baseline values. These impacts can be reduced by 94% with best operating performances from literature, with emissions from 4520 to 264 kg CO2 eq./kg piece, and non-significant difference with CM (demonstrated by Monte Carlo sampling). A 58% weight reduction is necessary for the AM process to improves its environmental sustainability. This research provides eco-design recommendations supporting decision making for further development of new technology.



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