AM Summit Denmark 2023: Is 3D printing leading the way in sustainable manufacturing? Key insights from Scandinavia’s largest additive manufacturing conference

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3D Printing Industry recently attended AM Summit 2023, which was held at K. B. Hallen in Copenhagen. Organized by Danish AM Hub, this annual event is Scandinavia’s largest additive manufacturing conference. 

With over 600 visitors in attendance, AM Summit 2023 drew speakers from across the additive manufacturing sector to provide insights through a number of keynote speeches and panel discussions. 46 additive manufacturing companies also exhibited during the event, affording an opportunity for visitors to explore key 3D printing offerings for a range of applications.   

The overarching theme of AM Summit 2023 was “sustainability,” with a clear focus on the benefits of 3D printing as a more sustainable alternative to traditional manufacturing.  

“The core of our journey is a fundamental belief that AM has so much more to offer,” stated Danish AM Hub CEO Frank Rosengreen Lorenzen. “The additive manufacturing method simply must be the method that holds the largest potential in terms of sustainability.”  

Danish AM Hub is a key advocate of sustainability in additive manufacturing. It was recently announced that the organization has been made a core partner of Formnext 2023, the world’s largest 3D printing trade show. Along with delegates from Sweden, Norway and Finland, Danish AM Hub will lead this year’s Nordic partner region in Frankfurt. The organization will “put sustainability on top of the agenda in the AM industry where it belongs” at Formnext 2023, according to Lorenzen.  

AM Summit 2023 was held at K. B. Hallen in Copenhagen. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
AM Summit 2023 was held at K. B. Hallen in Copenhagen. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

EOS and “responsible manufacturing” 

One company that claims to strive for sustainability in additive manufacturing is 3D printer manufacturer EOS. Marie Langer, EOS CEO, took to the stage in Copenhagen to demonstrate how the company is pursuing “responsible manufacturing.” 

Taking the reins of the company in 2019, Langer claims that her first decision was to “put sustainability at the center of what we do, because I truly believe that technology and innovation can and has to contribute to make the world a better place.”  

Indeed, back in 2021 EOS launched its first sustainability report, with the company establishing an internal Carbon Accounting and Controlling (CAC) system “to really be able to identify how much CO2 footprint emissions we’re contributing to, and also setting ourselves targets for the future.”  

Marie Langer, EOS CEO, speaking at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
Marie Langer, EOS CEO, speaking at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

What’s more, Langer also highlights how EOS wants to “put responsible manufacturing at the core of what we do,” launching a “Responsible Products” concept to achieve this. Here, the company works with research and audit partners to ensure that once a product is launched, any claims regarding specific CO2 reductions can be audited and certified. Langer emphasized that it is vital for customers to have real proof regarding the company’s sustainability claims to avoid greenwashing, asserting that “greenwashing will not be any solution for the climate crisis we’re running into.” In addition to certification, customers are also given documents which show the entire life cycle analysis (LCA) of their EOS products.

The first “Responsible Products” were launched in the polymer materials space during Formnext 2022, however Langer confirmed that more materials will follow in the future. Currently, EOS has two “Responsible Polymer” powders on the market, the PA 1101 ClimateNeutral and the PA 2200 CarbonReduced.     

Additionally, EOS’s Smart Fusion software, also launched during Formnext 2022, was highlighted by Langer as being “a huge game changer in the metal industry.” This software is said to significantly cut material waste, reducing support by 80% in one use case.      

Langer also pointed to EOS’s Cost and Carbon Calculator as encouraging sustainable manufacturing for its customers. Developed by the company’s Additive Minds and Sustainability teams, this online tool provides access to transparent cost and carbon analysis, visual analytics, cost sensitivity analysis, report generation, data-driven design to meet customer targets, and customized cases for customer pricing. 

Ultimately, the calculator makes it easy “for our customers looking at specific applications to calculate carbon emissions and also share the pricing to really evaluate the green business case,” commented Langer.       

Marie Langer highlights EOS's Responsible Polymer products at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
Marie Langer highlights EOS’s Responsible Polymer products at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

Is 3D printed meat the answer to sustainable food?

The meat industry was also highlighted as a key contributor to global sustainability challenges during this year’s Copenhagen-based event. Daniel Dikovsky, CTO at food 3D printing firm Redefine Meat, took to the stage to highlight how the company’s 3D printed steak is providing a viable and sustainable alternative to traditional meat products.

According to Dikovsky, “Beef is creating a huge, huge problem which is comparable only to the transportation sector in the amount of greenhouse gas emission, in the land that it occupies, the feed that we grow for these animals, and also in water consumption and antibiotics released to the ground.” Indeed, cows reared for meat are said to require approximately 8.5x more water than humans on a daily basis.   

To combat these challenges, Redefine Meat employs plant-based tissue engineering technology to 3D print steak products that are said to accurately reflect the texture and taste of their cow-reared alternatives. Here, the company employs a “bottom-up” approach, using it’s own formulated plant-based “fat, muscle, blood, connective tissue, and other elements” to create the meat-free products. The company has developed a digital process to accurately combine these elements and create the desired textures.  

Daniel Dikovsky speaking at AM Summit 2023. Photo via 3D Printing Industry.
Daniel Dikovsky speaking at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

Back in 2018, Redefine Meat created its first proof of concept, highlighting an ability to extrude multiple different materials and create a marble meat structure. This process was developed further, with the company producing its first tenderloin in 2021 that possessed the “characteristics that you would expect to have from a steak.” 

The company’s product portfolio has now grown to include a range of 3D printed steak products which have been released to market, and are being served in 2122 restaurants around the world.   

Dikovsky also pointed to the development of the company’s proprietary meat-free steak 3D printer, called the Angus System. “The machine is designed to meet the market needs for fast production at low costs,” commented Dikovsky. “There is a lot of work that is being done not only to show proof of concept, but make it commercially viable.”

One key challenge faced in this process relates to food safety requirements. “It’s not like making polymers or plastics or metals, it’s totally different,” added Dikovsky, who highlighted the hygiene and temperature challenges that need to be met in the production of this 3D printer. “We need to solve all of these requirements in order to put a production system in a food production lab.” 

Dikovsky emphasizes that the Angus 3D printer is “very scalable” and can achieve “real full scale commercial production” in the future.      

Dikovsky argues that the environmental benefits of 3D printed meat are substantial. According to Dikovsky, Redefine Meat’s New-Meat products reduce water consumption by 96%, cut land occupation by 98% and reduce greenhouse gasses by 91% compared to traditional farming methods.   

Redefine Meat’s Angus 3D printer. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

3D printing for sustainable architecture and construction

Sustainable architecture and construction was another key theme during AM Summit 2023. A number of speakers, panelists, and exhibitors such as 3D printed furniture company recozy, emphasized the sustainability benefits of using additive manufacturing for architectural and construction applications.

AM Hub’s Programme Director Eleanora Orsetti highlighted that construction is an industry which the organization is keen to work with. “We have quite a lot of challenges related to the construction industry. It’s responsible for 35% of the materials used, 37% of waste production, and 40% of CO2 emissions globally,” Commented Orsetti. 

Orsetti also noted that 3D printing in construction is largely based around concrete, arguing that this is not the most sustainable option. “We strive to think about how to take a step forward, how we can have more flexible and temporary structures, how we can combine different materials and techniques, but also how to have improved design freedom and involve local communities to design their own spaces.” 

With this goal in mind, Danish AM Hub has collaborated with Bjarke Ingels Group to run the I AM MSHRM project. This collaboration has seen the design and part-construction of a 3D printed, rapidly deployable, and easily assembled temporary structure. Key to this project is material efficiency, with the structure’s frames being 3D printed using plastic waste, locally sourced sugarcane and cornstarch. 

Eleanora Orsetti and Catherine Huang showcase the I AM MSHRM project. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
Eleanora Orsetti (left) and Catherine Huang showcased the I AM MSHRM project at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

Catherine Huang, a Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group, argued that additive manufacturing offers significant advantages in terms of material efficiency. “It has such an opportunity to reduce waste by printing only the parts that you need and without the need for traditional molds and forms. So you save on material.”   

The 3D printed frames are filled with mycelium, a naturally occurring fungi, to create the structure’s walls. “Instead of requiring 20 years to grow a tree, you can grow mycelium paneling in 20 days or less,” explained Huang. “This print, which is currently made of recycled plastic, could also become a biomaterial and become fully compostable. So at the end of life, it goes back into the ground.”

Whilst only a small section of this donut-shaped structure has been 3D printed so far, the team plans to finish and install the complete building in Copenhagen in the coming years. The structure has also been designed to be used as a rapidly deployable emergency shelter.    

To fully determine the sustainability benefits of the I AM MSHRM project, the team utilized Danish AM Hubs’s CO2e calculator tool. Here, the CO2 emissions of one of the structure’s arches was compared with that of a structure made from aluminum and regular insulation material. Ultimately, the results showed that the I AM MSHRM structure reduced CO2 emissions by 80%. 

3D printed section and scale model from the I AM MSHRM structure. Photo via 3D Printing Industry.
A 3D printed section and scale model from the I AM MSHRM structure. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

Also in the field of sustainable construction, Hedwig Heinsman Co-Founder & Creative Director at Aectual and Thijs Van Hooijdonk, Manager Marketing Recycled Products at Tetra Pak, outlined their ongoing collaboration to 3D print a series of architectural products from recycled beverage cartons. 

Through this collaboration, Aectual 3D prints “fully circular and customizable interior and architectural features at scale out of recycled waste materials,” according to Heinsman. Utilizing recycled material from Tetra Pak, the company designs and 3D prints interior and architectural features. For instance, the company has 3D printed interior wall panels for global sneaker manufacturer Nike.   

Key to this offering is that it is completely circular, with Aectual’s 3D printed architectural structures being shredded and then re-printed at the end of life. Given the extensive material waste generated by the construction industry, Aectual and Tetra Pak’s additive manufacturing process is said to offer significant potential in sustainable manufacturing.      

Hedwig Heinsman and Thijs Van Hooijdonk outlining the sustainability challenges in the construction. Photo via 3D Printing Industry.
Thijs Van Hooijdonk (left) and Hedwig Heinsman outlining the sustainability challenges in the construction. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

In keeping with this focus on construction and architecture, this year’s AM Impact Award was awarded to 3D printing construction company 3DCP Group. The AM Impact award aims to recognise companies that have “pushed the boundaries, demonstrated the capabilities of AM, and championed sustainability,” according to Lorenzen. In addition to 3DCP Group, global toy manufacturer Lego and steel tool system manufacturer Asgaard Metals were also nominated.      

3DCP Group were awarded the AM Impact award at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
3DCP Group were awarded the AM Impact award at AM Summit 2023. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

3DCP Group received the 2023 AM Impact award in recognition of their work in Lviv, Ukraine, where the company 3D printed a concrete kindergarten structure. 3DCP Group’s Founder and CEO Mikkel Brich stated that concrete 3D printing technology can be utilized to “rebuild cities in a matter of weeks or months, instead of it taking many years,” with the company hoping to 3D print more buildings in Ukraine in the future.        

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Featured image shows the exhibition hall at AM Summit. Photo via Danish AM Hub.