REWAS 2019 pp 19-32 | Cite as

The Role of Manufacturing Variability on Environmental Impact

  • Alexander van Grootel
  • Jiyoun Chang
  • Elsa OlivettiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the The Minerals, Metals & Materials Series book series (MMMS)


Additive manufacturing (AM) especially metal additive manufacturing (MAM) is expected to disrupt many industries. Besides being very flexible and allowing bespoke parts with little to no setup time, AM technology is able to fabricate parts with geometries which were previously impossible to create. This allows for dramatically better designs by making the product lighter or more efficient. However, despite these numerous and significant benefits, the uptake of functional additive manufactured parts is slow. A major barrier to expedited uptake of this technology is process control. It is not certain what the most important process parameters or the ideal process windows are and how this changes for different process/material combinations. As of yet, there is not a set process to certify an AM part or process. This makes quality assurance prohibitively longwinded and expensive. Furthermore, to ensure safety under such uncertain conditions, a high safety factor and therefore thicker parts must be used. As a result, uncertainty is also tied to increased material consumption and therefore higher environmental impact. We need to better understand the nature of variability in AM in order to alleviate some of these problems. This manuscript presents several examples of the influence of variability in manufacturing and its potential impact on environmental performance.


Environmental impact Manufacturing Variability 



This publication was made possible with the support of the Government of Portugal through the Portuguese Foundation for International Cooperation in Science, Technology, and Higher Education, and was undertaken in the MIT Portugal Program.


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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander van Grootel
    • 1
  • Jiyoun Chang
    • 2
  • Elsa Olivetti
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Technology and Policy ProgramMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science & EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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