Ria Laureijs, Student, Carnegie Mellon University
Additive manufacturing (AM) is increasingly of interest for commercial and military aerospace applications due to its potential to create novel geometries with increased performance. For AM to find commercial application, it must be cost competitive against traditional processes. Forecasting production costs of future products prior to large-scale investment is challenging due to the limits of traditional cost accounting’s ability to handle the systemic process implications of new technologies and cognitive biases in humans’ additive and systemic estimates. Leveraging a method uniquely suited to these challenges, we quantify the production and use economics of an AM versus a traditionally forged GE engine bracket with equivalent performance. Our results show that when taking into account part redesign for AM and the associated lifetime fuel savings of the additively-designed bracket, the AM part and design is cheaper than the forged one for a wide range of scenarios, including at higher production volumes. Opportunities to further reduce costs include cheaper material prices without compromising quality, producing vertical builds with equivalent performance to horizontal builds, and increasing process control to enable reduced testing. These results suggest there may be broader economic viability for AM parts, especially when systemic factors and use costs are incorporated.