Advantages of Polylactic Acid (PLA) for accurate quantification, optimization and easy recovery of Embodied Energy in designed artifacts


Ankur Podder


Ankur Podder

Author Affiliation: 

Design Fabrication Group, International Design Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Material use and wastage in manufacturing industry lead to high embodied energy, emissions, and environmental impacts. Furthermore, materials consume energy in their processing. The amount of energy consumed is usually approximations as the system boundary is open and undefined. Processing of polymers like polylactic acid (PLA) occurs in the closed and defined environment. Within with system boundary, accurate quantification of material embodied energy is possible. Furthermore, when PLA is used as feedstock in additive manufacturing machines like 3D-printers, controlled optimization of embodied energy in designed artifacts is possible. Efficient mechanical and structural properties of PLA help lowering overall material use to a great extent. At end-of-life stage of 3d-printed artifacts, ease of recycling PLA leads to recovery of embodied energy for further reuse.