WAAM3D: Large-Scale Sustainability

Filomeno Martina, a co-founder and the CEO of WAAM3D, discussed the company’s innovative approach to large-scale metal additive manufacturing, emphasizing sustainability, during our interview at Formnext 2023. Specializing in using wire as feedstock and electric arcs as the heat source, WAAM3D stands out for producing some of the largest 3D-printed parts in the world and working with a variety of high-performance alloys.

Focusing on Sustainability in Manufacturing

WAAM3D starts its process with a thorough assessment based on financial, technical, and environmental criteria. Martina highlights the inefficiency of traditional manufacturing methods in this regard: “We often deal with parts machined from large metal blocks, leading to considerable waste.” WAAM3D‘s technology significantly reduces this waste, aligning with today’s focus on the triple bottom line and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) agendas.

The company’s approach to additive manufacturing technology allows for substantial reductions in material use and the associated energy consumption. “By reducing the mass of parts by up to 50%, we’ve seen corresponding reductions in CO2 emissions and energy use,” Martina explains. This not only saves costs but also enhances the environmental performance of the manufacturing process.

Repair and Hybridization: Extending Lifespan and Tailoring Properties

WAAM3D also emphasizes the sustainability potential for repair of high-value assets, extending their lifespan and improving the environmental impact of products. “Through additive manufacturing, we can repair parts that would otherwise be scrapped,” Martina says. Moreover, the company’s ability to adjust the chemistry of parts and utilize in-process hybridization, like forging, allows for further reduction in mass and enhanced mechanical properties.

Martina notes that while historically there was some hesitation in exploring applications with a weaker financial case, the growing emphasis on sustainability has brought these cases back to the forefront. “We’re finding that the environmental benefits of these applications are increasingly recognized and valued,” he says.

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