Energy and eco-impact evaluation of fused deposition modeling and injection molding of polylactic acid

Emmanuel Ugo Enemuoh, Venkata Gireesh Menta, Abdulaziz M Abutunis, Sean O’brien, Labiba Imtiaz Kaya, John Rapinac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There is limited knowledge about energy and carbon emission performance comparison between additive fused deposition modeling (FDM) and consolidation plastic injection molding (PIM) forming techniques, despite their recent high industrial applications such as tools and fixtures. In this study, developed empirical models focus on the production phase of the polylactic acid (PLA) thermoplastic polyester life cycle while using FDM and PIM processes to produce American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D638 Type IV dog bone samples to compare their energy consumption and eco-impact. It was established that energy consumption by the FDM layer creation phase dominated the filament extrusion and PLA pellet production phases, with, overwhelmingly, 99% of the total energy consumption in the three production phases combined. During FDM PLA production, about 95.5% of energy consumption was seen during actual FDM part building. This means that the FDM process parameters such as infill percentage, layer thickness, and printing speed can be optimized to significantly improve the energy consumption of the FDM process. Furthermore, plastic injection molding consumed about 38.2% less energy and produced less carbon emissions per one kilogram of PLA formed parts compared to the FDM process. The developed functional unit measurement models can be employed in setting sustainable manufacturing goals for PLA production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1875
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 9 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Carbon emission
  • Energy
  • Fused deposition modeling
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Plastic injection molding
  • Polylactic acid thermoplastic
  • Sustainability


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