Extending product life through additive manufacturing: The sustainability implications

Simon J. Ford, Mélanie Despeisse, Anna Viljakainen

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference articleScientific


    Novel combinations of advanced production processes and business models offer opportunities for more sustainable production and consumption. One of these production processes, additive manufacturing (AM), has the potential to transform the industrial landscape. There is a growing number of examples of products and processes redesigned for AM as companies are beginning to discover the potential benefits of AM to extend product life and close the loop. In this paper we focus on the use and end-of-life phases of the product life cycle to ask: How can the application of additive manufacturing enable product life extension? We found that AM enables major improvements towards sustainable production and consumption: design of more efficient and durable products; make-to-order model; repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and upgrade of existing products; value chains reconfiguration; service-based business models. In the make-to order model, inventory waste is minimised as spare parts can be produced locally only when needed. Furthermore, the availability of AM technologies for product life extension encourages companies to adopt service-based business models which align with sustainability interests, thereby decoupling the social and economic value created from the environmental impacts of production and consumption. Through examining and reviewing case examples, this paper provides a typology of the ways through which AM can enable product life extension.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventGlobal Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference, GCPC 2015: Accelerating the Transition to Equitable Post Fossil-Carbon Societies - Barcelona, Spain
    Duration: 1 Nov 20154 Nov 2015


    ConferenceGlobal Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference, GCPC 2015
    Abbreviated titleGCPC 2015


    • additive manufacturing
    • industrial sustainability
    • product life extension
    • service-based business models


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