Skip to main content

Life cycle cost, energy, and carbon emissions of molds for precast concrete: Exploring the impacts of material choices and additive manufacturing

Publication Type
Journal Name
Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication Date
Page Number

Molds for precast concrete are commonly used to create simple- to complex-shaped concrete products away from construction sites. These molds are often handmade from wood; however, additively manufacturing (AM, or 3D printing) fiber-reinforced polymer composites is an advantageous alternative, producing significantly more durable, highly complex molds faster, but likely at a higher cost. This study explores the impact of material and production variables on the cost, energy, and carbon emissions of employing composite AM molds over the full lifecycle. The case study employed techno-economic and life cycle assessments to show that using wood flour–poly(lactic acid) or recycled carbon fiber–acrylonitrile butadiene styrene for AM molds can be less expensive than conventional wood molds, especially when considering use phase costs. While wood molds have the least environmental impacts due to wood's higher biogenic carbon sequestration and minimal processing, optimizing AM designs could reduce energy demand, carbon emissions, and cost.