Modeling energy and resource use in additive manufacturing of automotive series parts with multi-jet fusion and selective laser sintering
With additive manufacturing (AM) becoming a competitive manufacturing process for low to medium production volumes, rapid manufacturing becomes an increasingly relevant manufacturing approach. However, regulations and customers demand more eco-efficient life-cycles of products. This requires engineers and designers to pre-select between productive AM processes like selective laser sintering (SLS) and multi-jet fusion (MJF), based on their expected environmental impact in series production. As SLS already debuted in the mid-1980s, researches broadly explored parts' mechanical properties, energy and resource use. The multi-jet fusion (MJF) technology, introduced in 2017, delivers comparable part properties at considerably higher print speeds. However, its energy and resource use is still scarcely covered. To close this gap, this publication develops a model for evaluation of energy and resource utilization based on a case study with an automotive exterior series part using an EOS P396 SLS and a HP 4200 MJF machine. Data from measurements in energy and material consumption as well as the print job shows a good predictability and builds the basis for an environmental assessment. The derived model and its functional blocks allow estimation and comparison of sustainability for different use cases in rapid manufacturing with MJF and SLS. Despite the process similarities, results concerning greenhouse gas emissions and cumulative energy demand are different. The gained insights enhance pre-selection of manufacturing strategies, a suitable printing technology and the evaluation of AM processes during manufacturing according to sustainability aspects. Printer manufacturers and users may find this research insightful for improvements in sustainability and comparability of future AM processes.