Challenges in Assessing the Sustainability of Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing for Large Structures
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Additive manufacturing is known as a disruptive technology, in enabling freedom in shape and on-demand production with little human intervention. At present, large-scale digital manufacturing means are being developed, such as Wire & Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM). These could be beneficial in aerospace, automotive and construction industries. However, while the technology is rapidly developing, little is known on the sustainability aspects. This article explores how such environmental effects could be assessed for a novel technology, and the production of large-scale products by means of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Forerunning results show possible gains in material usage when compared to traditional manufacturing technologies, and in power consumption when compared to different additive manufacturing technologies. Future research will focus benchmarking WAAM against alternative manufacturing techniques, including green sand casting and CNC milling.