Additive manufacturing for circular product design: A literature review from a design perspective

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Circular product design is a relatively new approach to design suitable strategies to realize circular products. Additive manufacturing (AM) is seen as a promising enabling production process. It has digital and additive characteristics, which makes AM different from conventional production techniques. However, it is yet unclear how this technique can contribute to circular product design in practice. In this paper, a literature review is placed in context, i.e. the results of a literature review on sustainability opportunities in AM are compared to five typical design cases in a design review.
The outcomes of the literature study reveal the aspects of the digital and additive characteristics of AM, that lead to potential sustainability opportunities. We compared these aspects to the circular design strategies as described by Bakker et al. (2014) and Bocken et al. (2016) in the context of the five selected design projects. Each project is described in terms of circular design strategies and how these were achieved through additive manufacturing.
Using design practice to reflect on the outcomes of the literature review resulted in a better understanding of the potential of additive manufacturing for circular product design. The relation between the sustainability aspects of AM and the circular design strategies were made explicit. AM seems to be especially suitable to customize parts to fit existing products and to contribute to new opportunities regarding material recycling. These findings deserve further exploration in order to understand the motives for implementation in circular product design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlate Product Lifetimes And The Environment 2017
Subtitle of host publicationConference Proceedings
EditorsC. Bakker, R. Mugge
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic) 978-1-61499-820-4
ISBN (Print) 978-1-61499-819-8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventPLATE 2017: Product Lifetimes and the Environment - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Nov 201710 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameResearch in Design Series
PublisherIOS Press


ConferencePLATE 2017


  • Circular product design
  • Additive manufacturing
  • 3D printing
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability


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