Growing consciousness regarding the environmental impacts of additive manufacturing (AM) processes has led to research focusing on quantifying their environmental impacts using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. The main objective of this paper is to review the state of the art of the existing LCA studies of AM processes. In this paper, a systematic literature review is carried out where a total of 77 papers focusing on LCA, including social-Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), are analyzed. Accordingly, the application of LCA methodology to different AM technologies was studied and different research themes such as the goal and scope of LCA studies, life cycle inventory data for different AM technologies, AM part quality and mechanical properties, the environmental, economic, and social performances of various AM technologies, and factors affecting AM´s sustainability potential were analyzed. Based on the critical analysis of the existing research, five major shortcomings of the existing research are realized: (i) some AM technologies are under studied; (ii) more focus only on the environmental sustainability dimension of AM, neglecting its economic and social dimensions; (iii) exclusion of AM pat quality and its mechanical performance from the sustainability assessment; (iv) not enough focus on the life cycle stages after product manufacture by AM; (v) effect of different product variables on AM´s sustainability not studied extensively. Lastly, based on these shortcomings realized, the following research directions for future works are suggested: (i) inclusion of new AM materials and technologies; (ii) transition to a triple-bottom-line sustainability assessment considering environmental, economic, and social dimensions of AM; (iii) extending the scope of LCA studies to post-manufacture stages of AM products; (iv) development of predictive environmental impact and cost models; (v) integration of quality and mechanical characterization with sustainability assessment of AM technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-559
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Systems
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Additive Manufacturing (AM)
  • Cost assessment
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA)
  • Sustainable manufacturing


Dive into the research topics of 'Life cycle assessment of additive manufacturing processes: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this