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First version of the DeMANS Additive Manufacturing Roadmap has been published

22 Jan 2024 15:34

We are delighted to begin the New Year with the news that the first version of the Additive Manufacturing Roadmap is now published and is publicly available through CORDIS.

This roadmap is one of the key elements of the DeMANS projects and, fundamentally, describes a vision for additive manufacturing by outlining new opportunities for replacing traditional synthetic plastics with biomaterials in complex consumer products, simultaneously reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and developing new innovations and markets for biopolymer-based products. This includes provision of a key scientific and technical challenges that must be met. The roadmap will detail critical issues regarding life cycle, costs, and circularity of supply chain.

The following details, extracted from the roadmap dcoument itself, outline the rationale for the roadmap and the key findings and areas covered by the current version. As outlined at the end of this article, there will be further opporunities for input to the roadmap by interested parties.

As the world increasingly focuses on sustainable practices, the integration of biopolymers into additive manufacturing (AM) for commodity part manufacture stands out as a transformative approach. This roadmap explores the journey of integrating sustainable biopolymers into AM, examining the current landscape of materials, emerging materials, printing techniques, potential applications, challenges, environmental impacts, implementation costs, and the associated business implications. It aims to provide a comprehensive guide for stakeholders in navigating this complex but crucially important field.

The roadmap outlines the strategic transition towards sustainable practices in the additive manufacturing sector. It emphasises the adoption of biopolymers, a move driven by environmental concerns and evolving consumer preferences. This comprehensive guide covers the current and future landscape of biopolymers, printing techniques, applications, challenges, environmental impacts, costs, and business implications, including:

  • Materials and Applicability: The focus is on sustainable biopolymers like polylactic acid, polyhydroxyalkanoates, and recycled polyethylene terephthalate, recognised for their environmental benefits. These materials are gaining traction in sectors ranging from automotive to healthcare, demonstrating versatility and potential beyond biomedical applications. Future prospects include innovative materials like algae-based polymers and mycelium composites, poised to revolutionise AM with enhanced properties and scalability.
  • Printing Techniques: Current techniques like fused deposition modelling, stereolithography, and selective laser sintering are examined, along with their compatibility and adaptation for biopolymers. Emerging technologies like continuous liquid interface production promise faster, high-quality, and versatile printing, aligning with sustainable manufacturing trends.
  • Potential Applications and Challenges: Biopolymers are versatile in applications but face challenges in material compatibility, regulatory hurdles, scalability, and cost. Collaborative efforts are required for overcoming these obstacles.
  • Environmental Impact: A life cycle assessment reveals that biopolymers, compared to traditional plastics and other sustainable materials, potentially offer a lower environmental footprint. Key considerations include carbon footprint reduction, waste minimisation, and resource consumption.
  • Costs of Implementation: The economic analysis includes material costs, technology investments, workforce training, and operational adjustments. Case studies highlight the cost-benefit dynamics, emphasising the importance of a thorough understanding of total cost ownership.
  • Business Case: Adopting biopolymers enhances brand reputation, market differentiation, and consumer appeal. The financial returns include both monetary gains and broader societal and environmental benefits, aligning with global sustainability trends.
  • Business Impacts: Integration of biopolymers affects market positioning and customer perceptions. It aligns with global sustainability goals and CSR initiatives, providing a competitive edge and attracting environmentally conscious consumers.

Future studies and actions required involve continued research for material and process optimisation, policy advocacy for supportive measures, and increased stakeholder collaboration. The roadmap underscores the necessity of integrating sustainability into business strategies, ensuring a balanced approach between economic viability and environmental stewardship.

This initial version, of course, just the beginning. Over the course of the next two years, this living document will be updated and refined, with new concepts and ideas being incorporated. We are also keen to get input from the wider community, including research organisations and industrial partners. We expect the final roadmap will be published in December 2025.

For more details of the roadmap document or if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101007584.

Views expressed on this website reflect only the author's views and neither the Research Executive Agency nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information on this website.

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