New AMGTA Research Demonstrates Sustainable Benefits of 3D Printing with Binder Blasting

2 August 2023

The Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association ("AMGTA"), a worldwide advocacy group focused on promoting sustainable practices in the additive manufacturing (AM) industry, today announced preliminary results of a life cycle analysis study by title " Comparative Life Cycle Assessment: Comparison of Casting and Binder Blasting for an Industrial Part". The study, commissioned by the AMGTA and conducted by the Yale School of the Environment (YSE) in partnership with Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM), a world leader in AM technologies for mass production, and Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT) , a global climate innovator, analyzed a steel volute cooler in a Trane HVAC system to determine the comparative impact of binder blast 3D printing manufacturing versus traditional metal casting. Preliminary results confirmed a drastic 38% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the binder blasting process, mainly driven by reduced energy demand during the production phase.

“Prior to this project, uncertainty about lifecycle emissions from binder blasting versus conventional manufacturing approaches was a barrier to adopting AM,” said Kevin Klug, Lead Engineer, Additive Manufacturing at Trane Technologies. “With the results of this study, Trane Technologies is in a better position to comprehensively consider the cost, productivity and environmental impact of AM early in a product's design cycle, when the risk is least and the potential benefits are greatest. bigger."

The main conclusions of the study are:

  • Significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The additive process showed a 38% reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases based on the binder blasting compared to the traditional casting for the parts studied.
  • Importance of energy mix. Similar to previous findings, the study found that the mix of power from the manufacturing facility to the generation site, and whether this grid power produced using sustainable means, had a significant impact on GHG emissions.
  • Insignificant value of new design for weight reduction. The study found that the potential benefits of a new volute cooler design for weight reduction using a truss type structure were negligible in terms of GHG emissions. The overall dimensions of the parts produced and the efficient use of print volumes played a much more important factor than weight reduction. Weight reduction may offer environmental benefits in the use phase that are not included in this study.
  • Impacts on the production of materials. Although this study showed that the environmental impacts of source dust production were about twice that of molten steel, this increase represented a small portion of the overall GHG emissions and did not play a significant role in the overall findings.
  • In general, binder blasting produced a more sustainable part. The dramatic reduction in GHG emissions from the energy demand of binder blasting versus traditional manufacturing was by far the most important finding of the YSE study.

"The release of these findings is significant for the AM sector and broader manufacturing companies seeking more sustainable production methods," said Sherri Monroe, Executive Director of AMGTA. "With this study, we can quantify the reduced energy demand of binder blasting versus traditional casting, while providing some surprises at the negligible impact offered by weight reduction in this particular use case."

One of the drivers behind the double-digit annual growth in additive manufacturing over the past decade has been the adoption of binder blasting across multiple industries, driven by cost advantages, high volume production and the potential for sustainability gains.

"We are delighted to have another third-party independent research that validates how binder blasting is a greener approach to producing metal parts," said Jonah Myerberg, Chief Technology Officer at Desktop Metal. "The harmful emissions from traditional metal fabrication need to be reduced with innovative technological approaches, but manufacturers need solid data, not greenwashing, to make good choices about how to produce their metal products. This new study from Yale, Trane Technologies and AMGTA demonstrates what our team at Desktop Metal has long believed based on our hands-on experience: binder blasting is a greener way to manufacture metal parts."

The two-year YSE study analyzed the origin-to-destination manufacturing lifecycle of a volute assembly comprising a fixed volute and an orbital volute manufactured by Trane Technologies as part of an HVAC system. AMGTA commissioned the study in 2021 to better understand the potential for binder blasting to replace traditional sand casting as a more sustainable production method. The study evaluated a traditional casting process followed by machining, plating and finishing steps in Mexico. The same volute assembly profile was evaluated using a 3D printing additive binder blasting, curing, and sintering process, followed by the same coating and finishing steps at the same location in Mexico.

Study results showed a 38% reduction in GHG emissions for the additive manufacturing process compared to the traditional foundry-based method. Due to the nature of binder blasting, YSE researchers concluded that a new design to reduce weight through a truss-type structure may not necessarily lead to further reductions in GHG emissions, particularly since most of the electricity consumed printing, curing and sintering steps would not be affected by lattice-type structures. The analysis suggests that a 10% mass reduction in the volute set would lead to a 1% reduction in GHG emissions.

Lifecycle GHG emissions were significantly impacted by local energy blending at the production site. For this study, both the traditional manufacturing parts assembly and the additive manufacturing parts assembly were evaluated in the same location with the same energy mix. The researchers also evaluated additional potential production sites and their corresponding energy combinations. The findings indicate that this grid "cleanliness" sensitivity needs to be considered when comparing AM with traditional processes to ensure a valid conclusion. While production at a more sustainable energy site offers environmental benefits for both production processes, the difference in environmental impacts between the methods decreases as the energy mix becomes more "green". Production volumes also play a significant role in GHG emissions from additive manufacturing, in particular for less efficient use of build volumes and small batch operations.

"Trane Technologies is committed to boldly challenging what is possible for a sustainable world," added Kevin Klug. "This includes creating advanced climate control solutions that can be produced and operated with reduced environmental impact. Metal additive manufacturing (AM) will become an increasingly viable tool in this pursuit, with comparatively greater speed and lower cost The low rate of binder blasting among AM technologies makes it particularly promising for manufacturing HVAC components in relevant production volumes."

'This study in cooperation with Desktop Metal is a clear win for manufacturers like Trane who are exploring more sustainable manufacturing options. Binder blasting is a proven technology with clear and quantifiable advantages over traditional methods," said Sherri Monroe. "We appreciate Trane's leadership in pursuing more sustainable practices, their participation in this study, their willingness to share their processes and data, and interest in sharing this information with the wider manufacturing community."

Study highlights can be found on the AMGTA website, with full results expected to be published in early 2024 after a peer review process. The AMGTA says it expects to publish additional independent research during 2023. Additional information about this study and others conducted by the AMGTA can be found on the AMGTA website, www.AMGTA.org .

About AMGTA

The AMGTA was launched in 2019 to better understand and promote the environmental benefits of additive manufacturing across the world economy. AMGTA members represent the entire spectrum of manufacturing, from design and raw materials to products and end users, with a focus on innovating better, more sustainable and cost-effective products through additive best practices. For more information, contact Sherri Monroe or visit www.amgta.org .

The original language text of this announcement is the official authorized version. Translations are provided as a convenience only and must refer to the original language text, which is the only version of the text that is legally binding.

contacts

Sherri Monroe
[email protected]
954.308.0888

 

Source: businesswire.com