Research Papers

Metal Additive Manufacturing: Cost Competitive Beyond Low Volumes

[+] Author and Article Information
Rianne E. Laureijs

Engineering and Public Policy,
Carnegie Mellon University,
5000 Forbes Avenue,
129 Baker Hall,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: rlaureij@andrew.cmu.edu

Jaime Bonnín Roca

Engineering and Public Policy,
Carnegie Mellon University,
5000 Forbes Avenue,
129 Baker Hall,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: jbonninr@andrew.cmu.edu

Sneha Prabha Narra

Mechanical Engineering,
Carnegie Mellon University,
5000 Forbes Avenue,
Scaife Hall,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: snarra@andrew.cmu.edu

Colt Montgomery

Mechanical Engineering,
Carnegie Mellon University,
5000 Forbes Avenue,
Scaife Hall,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: cmontgom@andrew.cmu.edu

Jack L. Beuth

Mechanical Engineering,
Carnegie Mellon University,
5000 Forbes Avenue,
Scaife Hall 301,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: beuth@andrew.cmu.edu

Erica R. H. Fuchs

Engineering and Public Policy,
Carnegie Mellon University,
5000 Forbes Avenue,
131 Baker Hall,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: erhf@andrew.cmu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 1, 2016; final manuscript received December 5, 2016; published online May 10, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Zhijian J. Pei.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 139(8), 081010 (May 10, 2017) (9 pages) Paper No: MANU-16-1358; doi: 10.1115/1.4035420 History: Received July 01, 2016; Revised December 05, 2016

Additive manufacturing (AM) is increasingly of interest for commercial and military applications due to its potential to create novel geometries with increased performance. For additive manufacturing to find commercial application, it must be cost competitive against traditional processes such as forging. Forecasting the production costs of future products prior to large-scale investment is challenging due to the limits of traditional cost accounting's ability to handle both the systemic process implications of new technologies and the cognitive biases in humans' additive and systemic estimates. Leveraging a method uniquely suited to these challenges, we quantify the production and use economics of an additively manufactured versus a traditionally forged GE engine bracket of equivalent performance for commercial aviation. Our results show that, despite the simplicity of the engine bracket, when taking into account the part redesign for AM and the associated lifetime fuel savings of the additively designed bracket, the additively manufactured part and design is cheaper than the forged one for a wide range of scenarios, including at higher volumes of 2000–12,000 brackets per year. Opportunities to further reduce costs include accessing lower material prices without compromising quality, producing vertical builds with equivalent performance to horizontal builds, and increasing process control so as to enable reduced testing. Given the conservative nature of our assumptions as well as our choice of part, these results suggest that there may be broader economic viability for additively manufactured parts, especially when systemic factors and use costs are incorporated.

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Fig. 1

Jet fuel prices: 2000–2015 [30]

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Fig. 3

AM model functionality for metal engine bracket. Both DMLS processes 1 and 2 follow the DMLS process flow.

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Fig. 5

DMLS systems show significant cost overlap given uncertainty of best and worst case scenarios noted in Table 8A, which is available under the “Supplemental Materials” tab for this paper on the ASME Digital Collection. Forging remains cheaper by small margin.

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Fig. 2

(a) Conventional engine bracket design [33] and (b) additive manufacturing engine bracket design [33], which boasts an approximately 80% weight reduction from the conventional design shown in Fig. 2(a)

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Fig. 7

Sensitivity analysis of individual cost drivers on base case scenario at 10,000 APV indicates that batch size, build time and orientation (all inextricably linked) significantly impact cost for both technologies

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Fig. 8

Given uncertainties, destructive testing shows some possibility of additional cost reduction (approximately $150 at APV for DMLS 1). Building parts vertically provides an additional ∼$260 of savings, through vertical build may not offer optimal mechanical properties.

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Fig. 10

Building parts vertically offers significant cost savings, but vertical build orientation may negatively impact mechanical properties

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Fig. 4

EBM and DMLS appear to have significant overlap in cost given uncertainty, with forging cheaper across all APV. EBM exhibits a slightly narrower range of cost given best and worst case scenarios.

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Fig. 6

(a) Cross section of base case cost at APV of 10,000 brackets indicates that material and machine price both have strong impact on EBM; material the primary driver of DMLS cost. (b) Unit cost breakdowns at low volumes (1000 APV) show an increase in the proportion of cost driven by equipment price for the AM manufactured bracket, a result of the nondedication in the AM manufacturing process.

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Fig. 9

Over 10 yr, AM bracket may yield anywhere between $400 and $3000 in cost savings due to weight reduction achieved by the additive design based on best and worst fuel prices over last 15 yr



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