This study fills a gap in additive manufacturing life cycle assessments to improve decision-making in plastic product manufacturing. This assessment investigated cradle-to-gate life cycle energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of multi-jet fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology across production quantities ranging up to 100,000 plastic parts. Results for MJF 3D printing site energy consumption were 25% lower than the median reported value for selective laser sintering. Modeled GHG emissions for the MJF part manufacturing unit process increased linearly at a rate that would surpass emissions associated with injection molding plate production after approximately 7 full build chamber print jobs, equivalent to 700 parts for the studied design. Major factors contributing to MJF’s emissions were 3D printing electricity consumption and material yield. Sensitivity analyses showed that variations in manufacturing facility electricity generation source, post-processing time, raw material production life cycle inventory (LCI) data, and printing speed could alter MJF cradle-to-gate GHG emissions by over 20%. The LCI data, build configurations, and process variables explored in this study provide a basis for estimating MJF GHG emissions per kilogram of PA12 product for a given design. These findings can guide 3D printing product design and manufacturing decisions for reducing GHG emissions.
CSS Publication Number:
life cycle assessment
greenhouse gas emissions
Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
October 8, 2020
London, Michael B., Geoffrey M. Lewis, Gregory A. Keoleian. (Accepted Sep 25, 2020) “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Implications of Multi-Jet Fusion Additive Manufacturing.” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 8(41): 15595-15602.