Shape Complexity and Process Energy Consumption in Electron Beam Melting: A Case of Something for Nothing in Additive Manufacturing?

11 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017

See all articles by Martin Baumers

Martin Baumers

Loughborough University

Chris Tuck

Loughborough University

Ricky Wildman

Loughborough University

Ian Ashcroft

Loughborough University

Richard Hague

Loughborough University

Date Written: November 2017

Abstract

Additive manufacturing (AM) technology is capable of building up component geometry in a layer‐by‐layer process, entirely without tools, molds, or dies. One advantage of the approach is that it is capable of efficiently creating complex product geometry. Using experimental data collected during the manufacture of a titanium test part on a variant of AM technology, electron beam melting (EBM), this research studies the effect of a variation in product shape complexity on process energy consumption. This is done by applying a computationally quantifiable convexity‐based characteristic associated with shape complexity to the test part and correlating this quantity with per‐layer process energy consumption on the EBM system. Only a weak correlation is found between the complexity metric and energy consumption (ρ = .35), suggesting that process energy consumption is indeed not driven by shape complexity. This result is discussed in the context of the energy consumption of computer‐controlled machining technology, which forms an important substitute to EBM. This article further discusses the impact of available additional shape complexity at the manufacturing process level on the incentives toward minimization of energy inputs, additional benefits arising later within the product's life cycle, and its implications for value creation possibilities.

Keywords: 3D Printing, additive manufacturing (AM), electron beam melting (EBM), energy consumption, industrial ecology, shape complexity

Suggested Citation

Baumers, Martin and Tuck, Chris and Wildman, Ricky and Ashcroft, Ian and Hague, Richard, Shape Complexity and Process Energy Consumption in Electron Beam Melting: A Case of Something for Nothing in Additive Manufacturing? (November 2017). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 21, Issue S1, pp. S157-S167, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3071329 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12397

Martin Baumers (Contact Author)

Loughborough University

Ashby Road
Nottingham NG1 4BU
Great Britain

Chris Tuck

Loughborough University

Ashby Road
Nottingham NG1 4BU
Great Britain

Ricky Wildman

Loughborough University

Ashby Road
Nottingham NG1 4BU
Great Britain

Ian Ashcroft

Loughborough University ( email )

Ashby Road
Nottingham NG1 4BU
Great Britain

Richard Hague

Loughborough University

Ashby Road
Nottingham NG1 4BU
Great Britain

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