Researchers from Imperial College London, UK, the University of Cyprus and professional services firm Buro Happold, London, UK, have released a paper which discusses the environmental benefits of wire-based Direct Energy Deposition (DED-Arc/wire) steel structural components versus those conventionally made. The results of this study were published in Journal of Cleaner Production.
To undertake the comparison in these technologies, the team conducted a cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment (LCA), where the environmental impact of producing a topologically optimised DED-Arc/wire steel beam was compared with that of producing a conventional hot-rolled steel I-beam. For the experiment, 2 m long steel I-beams were produced via hot rolling and DED-Arc/wire processes, from both carbon steel and stainless steel.
The topologically optimised cantilever DED-Arc/wire structural steel components studied in this research were fabricated by MX3D, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The results demonstrate that the carbon steel and stainless steel DED-Arc/wire beams have 7% and 24%, respectively, lower climate change impact than the corresponding hot-rolled I-beams.
The paper concluded that DED-Arc/wire can lead to lower CO2 emissions than hot-rolling, providing that mass reduction of approximately 50% (which the research shows is readily attainable) can be achieved by utilising the AM technology in conjunction with topology optimisation. The study further went on to say that, by using higher deposition rates or renewable energy sources, the impact of DED-Arc/wire can be further reduced by over 30%.
The paper “Environmental life cycle assessment of wire arc additively manufactured steel structural components” is available here.