We review the process rates and energy intensities of various additive processing technologies and focus on recent progress in improving these metrics for laser powder bed fusion processing of metals, and filament and pellet extrusion processing of polymers and composites. Over the last decade, observed progress in raw build rates has been quite substantial, with laser metal processes improving by about 1 order of magnitude, and polymer extrusion processes by more than 2 orders of magnitude. We develop simple heat transfer models that explain these improvements, point to other possible strategies for improvement, and highlight rate limits. We observe a pattern in laser metal technologies that mimics the development of machine tools; an efficiency plateau, where faster rates require more power with no change in energy nor rate efficiency.

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Published in Journal of Industrial Ecology, v. 21, no. S1, p. S69-S79.

© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Industrial Ecology, published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of Yale University.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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We acknowledge partial funding for this work from Cummins.

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Supporting information is linked to this article on the JIE website: https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12664

jiec12664-sup-0001-SuppMat.pdf (309 kB)
Supporting Information S1