Economics of additive manufacturing for end-usable metal parts
Additive manufacturing (AM) of metal parts combined with part redesign has a positive repercussion on cost saving. In fact, a remarkable cost reduction can be obtained if the component shape is modified to exploit AM potentialities. This paper deals with the evaluation of the production volume for which AM techniques result competitive with respect to conventional processes for the production of end-usable metal parts. For this purpose, a comparison between two different technologies for metal part fabrication, the traditional high-pressure die-casting and the direct metal laser sintering additive technique, is done with consideration of both the geometric possibilities of AM and the economic point of view. A design for additive manufacturing approach is adopted. Costs models of both processes are identified and then applied to an aeronautical component selected as case study. This research evidences that currently additive techniques can be economically convenient and competitive to traditional processes for small to medium batch production of metal parts.