Powder-based additive manufacturing technologies are developing rapidly. To assess their applicability, comparison of performance and environmental impacts between additive technologies and conventional techniques must be performed. Toyota manufactures over two million aluminum four-cylinder engines in the U.S. each year via die casting. The dies used in this process are traditionally repaired via tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding and only last an average of 20.8% of the number of cycles of the original die life before another repair is needed. A hybrid repair process involving machining away the damaged areas and then rebuilding them additively via powder-blown directed energy deposition (DED) has been developed. The die repaired via DED resulted in the same life as the original die. The use of DED repair eliminated the need for emergency repairs and nonscheduled downtime on the line because the DED repaired dies last for as many cycles as the original die before another repair is needed. Life cycle analyses were conducted comparing the traditional welding repair process to the DED repair process. The results show that the DED repair process results in significantly less damage to the assessed impact categories except for ionizing radiation. Therefore, it can be concluded that the DED repair process could lessen most environmental impacts compared to traditional welding repair. Further work toward increasing energy and material efficiencies of the method could yield further reductions in environmental impacts.

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