Additive manufacturing and its societal impact: a literature review

  • Samuel H. HuangEmail author
  • Peng Liu
  • Abhiram Mokasdar
  • Liang Hou


Thirty years into its development, additive manufacturing has become a mainstream manufacturing process. Additive manufacturing build up parts by adding materials one layer at a time based on a computerized 3D solid model. It does not require the use of fixtures, cutting tools, coolants, and other auxiliary resources. It allows design optimization and the producing of customized parts on-demand. Its advantages over conventional manufacturing have captivated the imagination of the public, reflected in recent mainstream publications that call additive manufacturing “the third industrial revolution.” This paper reviews the societal impact of additive manufacturing from a technical perspective. Abundance of evidences were found to support the promises of additive manufacturing in the following areas: (1) customized healthcare products to improve population health and quality of life, (2) reduced environmental impact for manufacturing sustainability, and (3) simplified supply chain to increase efficiency and responsiveness in demand fulfillment. In the mean time, the review also identified the need for further research in the areas of life-cycle energy consumption evaluation and potential occupation hazard assessment for additive manufacturing.


Additive manufacturing Environmental impact Energy consumption Supply chain Health and wellbeing 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel H. Huang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Peng Liu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Abhiram Mokasdar
    • 2
  • Liang Hou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Electrical EngineeringXiamen UniversityXiamenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Dynamic SystemsUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Industrial EngineeringJilin UniversityChangchunPeople’s Republic of China

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