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A business model for additive manufacturing of recycled plastics towards sustainability


The manufacturing landscape is ever-changing, and one of the most significant driving forces is the emergence of additive manufacturing (AM), which enables cost-effective and small-scale production towards sustainability. To better align AM with manufacturing in suitable applications, this study proposes a business model in terms of the cost pattern and scaling production supported by three key concepts: standardisation, localisation and collaboration. The ambiguity of the cost calculation is one of the key factors slowing down AM progress, and a lack of a cost pattern affects decision-making when applying AM to appropriate applications. The business model in this study is focused on applying the data collected from previous research, the collection-recycling-manufacturing (CRM) model, to discover the implications of AM processes on the road to sustainable manufacturing. The novel business model envisions the nature of AM characteristics and their linkages to cost patterns, so AM applications can be integrated into a cost-effective process. This study contributes qualitative analysis to the cost patterns’ integration. Through this integration, the business model mediates the gap between technologies and applications via the formulas of cost patterns, so AM can perform its appropriate role in the industry mainstream. The cost modelling proposed in this study derives generic formulas via the unit cost of tooling, moulding, machine, materials, design, miscellaneous cost and the batch size. The business model applies the “divide-and-conquer” concept, convergence effect and data analysis to support quantitative analysis. The model can calculate the total cost per unit, and its accuracy is close to 100%. Through the novelty of this model, AM and conventional manufacturing (CM) cost benchmarking and decision support functions are enabled to aid in stakeholder decision-making. Eventually, appropriate AM technologies and processes can synchronise with localisation, standardisation and collaboration and, ultimately, the impact of AM towards sustainable manufacturing.

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The listed (4) authors contribute 100% of the design, review, writing, experiments and analysis.

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Correspondence to Haishang Wu.

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Wu, H., Mehrabi, H., Naveed, N. et al. A business model for additive manufacturing of recycled plastics towards sustainability. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 120, 7997–8011 (2022).

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  • Sustainability
  • Collaboration
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Localisation
  • Cost model
  • Home-based manufacturing