AM: The Next Tool in the Sustainability Toolbox

A new report from CASTOR reveals how 3D printed parts can help organizations down the path of reducing CO2 emissions.

A new report from CASTOR reveals how 3D printed parts can help organizations down the path of reducing CO2 emissions.

We’ve heard all the accolades about Additive Manufacturing (AM). It can produce complex geometries not possible with other production methods. It’s a critical tool for lightweighting and can be tapped to print parts on demand.

Now, CASTOR, a company providing software that helps identify parts that are suitable candidates for AM, has just released new research that shows how AM can also help reduce carbon emissions and propel companies further on the path to sustainability. The company’s latest version of its CASTOR platform incorporates a CO2 Emission Calculator, which gauges potential emissions savings on parts slated for AM as compared to traditional manufacturing methods. To come up with its  CO2 analysis, CASTOR takes into account various parameters along the full lifecycle of the product, including material production, manufacturing, product use, transportation, and end of life.

In its new report, CASTOR determined that more than a third of parts suitable for 3D printing have the potential to reduce carbon emissions compared to if they were made with traditional manufacturing. The research, which analyzed more than 50,000 parts uploaded to the CASTOR platform, came to the following conclusions:

Complex geometries can reduce CO2 emissions in production stage. In traditional manufacturing scenarios, complex parts require significant machine running time, which means a lot of time and energy spent on production. In contrast, one of AM’s strength’s is outputting complex parts, and there is no correlation to intricate part shapes and production time. CASTOR’s research found that only 7% of simple parts (meaning they lack complex geometries) have the potential to save CO2 emissions compared to 25% of complex parts.

“Buy-to-fly” ratio translates to lower CO2 emissions. The `buy-to-fly’ ratio, commonly used in aerospace, refers to the weight of the raw material divided by the weight of the final component. According to CASTOR, 50KG of CO2 emissions can be eliminated when less than 10% of the raw material remains in the finished part.

Lightweighting plays an important role. Leveraging tools like CASTOR to identify weight reduction opportunities and incorporating lattice structures can have a direct impact on achieving CO2 emission reduction goals.  The research determined that 17% of the parts found suitable for AM could be made lighter without compromising structural integrity—a move that would have a significant impact on shrinking carbon emissions. Moreover, reducing a part’s weight by 40%, a pretty straightforward target when deploying AM, can save 10% of CO2 emissions.

On-demand manufacturing eliminates waste, reduces inventory. With AM, manufacturers can quickly calibrate production levels to meet demand, which enables them to hold less spare parts stock while reducing waste. To illustrate the impact, the report illustrated how avoiding production and disposal of a single spare part over a 10-year period could yield a reduction of 3 tons of CO2 emissions—equivalent to the emissions produced by 18,000 kilometers traveled in a diesel-powered car or 216 train trips between Paris and Amsterdam.

“Business leaders are under increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions—from stakeholders, customers, and from regulatory bodies, said Omer Blaier, co-founder and CEO of CASTOR, in a prepared release. “Companies must explore new innovative manufacturing processes if they are to become more environmentally friendly.”

Watch this video to see how CASTOR works.

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Beth Stackpole's avatar
Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to

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