Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 18

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Binder Jet 3D Printing
Liquid binder is selectively applied to a thin layer of powder, layer by layer, to form high-value parts and tooling
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2 3 4 5 6
Powder is deposited. Inkjet applies binder. Each layer is printed fast. Powder is recoated. The process repeats. 3D printing is complete.
In binder jet 3D printing, liquid binder is selectively applied to a thin layer of powder to form parts and tooling.
One of the most meaningful methods
of reducing with additive is to consolidate
several parts into one, reducing
manufacturing and assembly steps
or lightweighting a part with radically
optimized topology that enables a new
geometry that delivers the same or
improved functional benefits with less
weight. What's more, you can take a traditional
stainless steel part, optimize
the design, and print it in a new material,
such as aluminum, that amplifies the
benefits even more.
When it comes to the sustainability
benefits that come from this " reduce "
category, almost all forms of additive
manufacturing have you covered. But
some specific AM processes offer en -
hanced benefits; for example, binder
jet technology can print higher volumes
of parts with ease compared to
laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) technologies,
allowing more meaningful
benefits across more parts.
Reuse or Recycle?
When it comes to reuse or recycling,
we haven't been as good at distinguishing
between the two. But these are two
very different Rs in sustainability. In -
deed, even the icons for the two Rs are
very similar, with reuse showing an
effortless circle of arrows and recycling
showing a triangle of arrows to demonstrate
a bit of extra effort. At the end of
the day, recycling is also sort of a consolation
approach: if we can't stop being
more wasteful to begin with, let's at
least recycle.
But the truth is that recycling is very
resource-intensive to begin with, consuming
a lot of energy and time. It's
spent sorting, cleaning, transporting,
refining, and reforming all sort of items
in recycling. If reduced or reused in the
first place, we could greatly reduce this
consumption as well.
Consider the normal, everyday scrap
generated in a CNC manufacturing
shop. It's tempting to think that all
those chips are sent right back to the
refiner and returned as new steel or aluminum
to cut. It's far from being that
simple. The chips are fouled with cutting
fluids and tramp oils and they need
to be cleaned and dried. Chips of different
metals need to stay sorted and warehoused
between pickups. And while
good plant hygiene can alleviate some
of these difficulties, it takes ongoing in -
vestments and international, federal,
and local regulations may vary greatly.
It's a complicated subject and more
swarf makes it into landfills than you
might expect.
The High Efficiency of Reuse
What if we could reuse more material
without recycling? What if we could
reuse material directly in a manufacturing
process many, many times before
it's recycled?
Binder jetting is an additive manufacturing process in which a liquid binding agent is selectively
deposited to join powder particles.
18
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A 2020 research paper in The
Minerals, Metals & Material Society,
" Metal Powder Recyclability in Binder Jet
Additive Manufacturing " concluded one
could recycle powder up to 16 times in
the binder jetting process - delivering
an overall efficiency of material consumption
of up to 96%. If you dig into the article
a bit deeper, you'll find it's really more
about reusing material directly in the
process rather than recycling.
This brings me to an interesting conversation
that recently happened in the
SAE International workgroup writing
standards for metal AM. There's a committee
writing the standard AMS 7031 -
Process Requirements for Recovery and
Recycling of Metal Powder Feedstock for Use
in Additive Manufacturing of Aerospace
Tech Briefs, July 2021
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Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021

Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov1
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov2
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 1
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 2
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 3
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 4
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 5
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 6
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 7
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - 8
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Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov3
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2021 - Cov4
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