skip to main content


Title: Energy and emissions saving potential of additive manufacturing: the case of lightweight aircraft components

Additive manufacturing (AM) holds great potential for improving materials efficiency, reducing life-cycle impacts, and enabling greater engineering functionality compared to conventional manufacturing (CM) processes. For these reasons, AM has been adopted by a growing number of aircraft component manufacturers to achieve more lightweight, cost-effective designs. This study estimates the net changes in life-cycle primary energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with AM technologies for lightweight metallic aircraft components through the year 2050, to shed light on the environmental benefits of a shift from CM to AM processes in the U.S. aircraft industry. A systems modeling framework is presented, with integrates engineering criteria, life-cycle environmental data, and aircraft fleet stock and fuel use models under different AM adoption scenarios. Estimated fleetwide life-cycle primary energy savings in a rapid adoption scenario reach 70-174 million GJ/year in 2050, with cumulative savings of 1.2-2.8 billion GJ. Associated cumulative emission reduction potentials of CO2e were estimated at 92.8-217.4 million metric tons. About 95% of the savings is attributed to airplane fuel consumption reductions due to lightweighting. In addition, about 4050 tons aluminum, 7600 tons titanium and 8100 tons of nickel alloys could be saved per year in 2050. The results indicate a significant role ofmore » AM technologies in helping society meet its long-term energy use and GHG emissions reduction goals, and highlight barriers and opportunities for AM adoption for the aircraft industry.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [4] ; ORCiD logo [4] ;  [5] ;  [1]
  1. Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States). McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
  2. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Energy Systems Division
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Global Security Sciences Division
  4. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  5. Dept. of Energy (DOE), Washington DC (United States). Advanced Manufacturing Office
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; AC02-06CH11357
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Cleaner Production
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 135; Journal ID: ISSN 0959-6526
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; additive manufacturing; life cycle assessment; lightweight aircraft; energy saving; greenhouse gas emissions
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1298333