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Sustainability Characterization for Additive Manufacturing



Kevin W. Lyons, Satyandra K. Gupta


Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to create geometrically complex parts that require a high degree of customization, using less material and producing less waste. Recent studies have shown that AM can be an economically viable option for use by the industry, yet there are some inherent challenges associated with AM for wider acceptance. The lack of standards in AM impedes its use for parts production since industries primarily depend on established standards in processes and material selection to ensure the consistency and quality. Inabilities to compare AM performance against those seen in traditional manufacturing methods are barriers for implementing AM processes. Addressing AM process sustainability has become a challenge driven by the growing environmental concerns for manufacturing. This has reinforced the importance to understand and characterize AM processes for sustainability. Process characterization for sustainability in AM processes will help close the gaps for comparing AM to levels of performance seen in traditional manufacturing methods. Based on a literature review, this paper will first examine the potential environmental impacts of AM. A methodology for sustainability characterization of AM is then proposed to serve as a resource for the community to benchmark existing metal powder bed AM processes for sustainability. Next, some research perspectives along with some relevant standards efforts are discussed.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) - 119.016
Report Number


additive manufacturing, sustainability, characterization, performance metrics


Lyons, K. and Gupta, S. (2014), Sustainability Characterization for Additive Manufacturing, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 21, 2024)


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Created August 21, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018