EOS and EADS IW collaborate on eco-assessment of Direct Metal Laser-Sintering (DMLS)

EOS, the world leading manufacturer of laser-sintering systems, in collaboration with EADS Innovation Works (IW), has started work on a study to understand the potential of the Direct Metal Laser-sintering (DMLS) process to generate savings in the use of energy and raw materials. This will help to develop a new range of manufacturing technologies that will integrate sustainability relevant aspects into products and product manufacturing.

By capitalizing on the benefits the DMLS process offers, including the net-shape technology benefits to generate weight-reduced structures, along with the low use of raw materials, DMLS technology has a huge potential to contribute to sustainable development in manufacturing.

A previous study conducted by EADS IW showed that although the use of energy during the manufacturing phase could not compare with conventional manufacturing processes, energy consumption during the use-phase of aircraft components dropped significantly. Indeed the DMLS technology unlocks structural optimization, leading to weight reduction of the components, and thus fuel and CO2 emissions reduction.

In parallel, EOS carried out a Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) calculation of one kilogram of sintered material.  The findings supported EADS IW’s research, as they showed that the greatest impact on reducing CO2 emissions and energy consumption was to be found during the use-phase of laser-sintered components. It further identified the most important drivers of energy consumption along the B2B value chain; particularly around the supply of raw materials and the use of cooling systems.  It was while comparing data that EADS IW and EOS agreed to carry out a collaborative environmental study.

Technologies applied to aerospace normally have to go through a nine steps process called TRL (Technology Readiness Level) before a technology goes through qualification. For each TRL review, the evolution in maturity of a technology is measured in terms of performance, engineering, manufacturing and operational readiness as well as value and risk and sustainability/environment. The latter is a new criterion linked to EADS Group’s eco-efficiency vision and a joint study focusing on this criterion made perfect sense.

Following on from the original study, EADS IW and EOS  will now complete a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – covering energy consumption, material use, CO2 emissions and use of hazardous material – benchmarking an optimized design for use with EOS’ next generation platform EOSINT M 280 metal system. Results should show improvements on the sustainable performances not only on the component, but also on its manufacturing.

Adrian Keppler, Manager Strategy and Business Development at EOS stresses: “There is a consensus within society that companies have to address and to meet their responsibility for our environment and our natural resources. As such, sustainability is one of the pillars of the EOS strategy. Our technology can help to improve environmental performance at clients such as EADS IW through freedom of new designs and innovation, reduced energy and CO2 emissions. At the same time, DMLS enables lightweight design as well as a reduced material consumption and transportation emissions due to production on demand.”

Cyrille Peignot, Sustainability Engineer at EADS IW, adds: “We shape the future of aerospace as a company. But in order to meet our responsibilities we have to tackle the current challenges such as access and availability of resources, as well as aircraft emissions. EOS is one of our suppliers in the Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) arena and their technology allows us to identify internal saving potentials. Indeed when combined with topology optimization, ALM can deliver weight reduction and, consequently, reduced fuel consumption, but more importantly economise on use of raw materials, frequently a significant cost to manufacturers.  So far we have been able to redesign a part during the case study process that meets our objectives: the use of fewer resources during manufacturing while producing almost no waste, as well as a significant decrease of the energy bill. All these are key factors to improve sustainability on an aircraft’s performance and its manufacturing.”

The joint case study of EOS with EADS IW will be carried on throughout the rest of the year and further more detailed results will be made available towards the end of 2011.

Photos: Cyrille Peignot, Sustainability Engineer, EADS IW. and Adrian Keppler, Manager Strategy and Business Development, EOS.

For more information, visit: www.eos.info or www.eads.com

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