A sustainability scenario in the future of additive manufacturing

The perspective published in the journal Nature Sustainability

Additive manufacturing, also known as "3D printing," is often presented as a sustainable technology. Actually, it's not inherently circular or sustainable. However, we can make it so by implementing, during its development, design strategies aimed at sustainability. It is worth noting that additive manufacturing itself can contribute significantly to the implementation of such strategies. 

This is the subject of the study recently published in the journal Nature Sustainability, by seven researchers, including Serena Graziosi of the Department of Mechanics of the Politecnico di Milano. The perspective is the result of a two-year international collaboration that began with a joint workshop organized by the Design for AM and Sustainable Design Special Interest Groups of the Design Society. 

The study proposes a systems approach in which all phases of a product's life cycle must be considered: from material procurement to usage scenarios to end-of-life disposal. Within this systemic vision, the study explores how additive technologies can significantly contribute to the implementation of circular economy principles. 

As additive manufacturing technologies are still evolving, we are yet in time to integrate the principles behind sustainable design into the development of such technologies and further explore how AM can support the implementation of sustainable design strategies. In this perspective, we have envisioned a future scenario of how AM could drive sustainable development. 

commented Serena Graziosi, co-author of the study. 

We hope that this discussion can help establish a common ground upon which experts from multiple disciplines can contribute to transforming this scenario into reality. 

Find out more

Graziosi, S., Faludi, J., Stanković, T. et al.
A vision for sustainable additive manufacturing.
Nat Sustain (2024).

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