Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry

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Making Additive Manufacturing Safer

In early 2015, the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry initiated a joint project with Autodesk (Project Nido) to assess the resin formulae currently used in their stereolithography (SLA) demonstration printer, the Ember. As an extension of this consulting effort, BCGC and Autodesk agreed to partner in the Greener Solutions course later that fall. An interdisciplinary graduate student team investigated bio-inspired solutions and offered a range of solutions to address the environmental and human health hazard implications of additive manufacturing (AM). Concurrently, Justin Bours, part of the initial consulting team and now funded through a joint BCGC and Northwest Green Chemistry internship program, developed a framework to combine a life cycle assessment with hazard and green design metrics, and tested the framework on different AM materials including a bio-sourced polymer. This work created the foundation for Northwest Green Chemistry to launch a Sustainable Materials Framework Roundtable for Additive Manufacturing initiative in May, 2017.

The Sustainable Materials Framework for Additive Manufacturing Roundtable is sponsored by Northwest Green Chemistry, Autodesk, Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute, and Washington Department of Ecology. Participants include NGOs, academia, government agencies, material suppliers, material designers, printer manufacturers, end-users, and consulting firms. Now in our second year of focus on additive manufacturing, BCGC is proud to be participating in this industry roundtable as an extension of our original research and consulting work.

The goal of the project is to develop a flexible framework that will aid everyone in the additive manufacturing industry including innovators, developers, product designers, print operators, and end-users to create and select safe AM materials for their needs. The framework is to be used as an assessment tool and aims to adapt to the AM industry as it continues to evolve in order to highlight key decision making issues. In order to generate a comprehensive picture of materials in AM, diverse metrics such as LCA, risk assessment and chemical hazard assessment are important factors that the roundtable is targeting to include during the development of the framework.

Bringing together the diverse participants in one roundtable will help shape the development of the flexible framework model. Participants will share their expertise and insights and learn from other AM professionals. This knowledge base will help the participants further the development of more sustainable products.

_______________________________________________________________Northwest Green Chemistry is a non-profit organization that aims to enhances human and environmental health by fostering innovation and economic opportunities through sustainable and green chemistry and engineering solutions (Northwest Green Chemistry).

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