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Tom Craeghs


Driving sustainability in Additive Manufacturing through expert process control

Additive Manufacturing progressively gains ground as a manufacturing technology for an ever wider variety of applications. In the past AM-related R&D in academia and industry focused on themes that can be categorized as clustered around three challenges: make AM work (e.g. develop the right building strategies for optimal material characteristics), make it worthwhile (e.g. develop new business models with the new potential) and make it economically viable (e.g. cost reduction through). A new challenge and opportunity has come: how to make AM sustainable. Together with the whole industry we believe at Materialise AM can be a prime example of sustainable manufacturing in many ways. One aspect of sustainability is related to ecology, and in the Carbon Footprint of AM, many factors play a role. These factors are furthermore specific for each AM-material combination, application area, specific work-flow and post-processing etc. Materialise is one of the leading players in powder-bed based plastic AM, and literature describes very well which factors contribute to the carbon footprint for this technology, and among others the low powder re-use rate (contributing to more than 50% of the footprint) and the high energy consumption are two important contributors. This presentation will discuss a very innovative solution for improving the sustainability, which comprises several aspects. Special focus goes to the role of the in-depth process control on the Materialise Control Platform, and how a digital twin of the process has been used to implement superb laser and scanning control in order to maximize the re-use rate of powder in plastic powder bed. The proof of the pudding is in the eating: Materialise is validating solutions in the machine park on industrial level.

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