August 2018

Going green with 3D printing

From cutting back on the amount of plastic you use to swapping your air conditioning for a fan, there are a number of simple steps we can all take to combat climate change. Less is known about the vast array of opportunities presented by 3D printing that could drastically reduce the negative impact we make on the environment.

So, what does industrial 3D printing have to do with going green? Well, a lot more than you think. From spinning carbon into concrete to cutting shipping waste and making cars lighter, additive manufacturing is creating numerous new possibilities for both individuals and corporations alike to take control of their eco footprint.

Shipping

Because additive manufacturing involves uploading data to the web for it to then be downloaded by local manufactures /users anywhere in the world – the need for worldwide shipping is significantly reduced with 3D printing. A reduction in shipping, of course, means less burned fuel, less packaging, and less storage – all of which can go some way to helping reduce the damage manufacturing is having on the environment.

Emissions

There are several negative by products that come with traditional industrial manufacturing processes; smoke, pollution and toxic fumes, to name but three. All three are significantly reduced, and in some cases entirely eradicated, when 3D printing is used instead. From the automotive industry to health care, many sectors are now using 3D printing in their production lines. The more the technology is used, the more reductions can be made to the emissions and damage being done by traditional manufacturing processes. Although large volume production parts still need injection moulding for economies of scale, more bespoke products will certainly benefit form 3D printing.

Waste

It isn’t just a reduction in shipping and emissions that will help the world save energy, with the amount of waste produced by manufacturing also an area where companies and individuals can make an impact. With 3D printing, items are created by building layer upon precise layer using functional plastics and metals,enabling endless product complexity with no cost limitations, negating the need for separate parts to be individually packaged and cutting the amount of waste we produce as a species.

The bottom line

Without much publicity or fanfare, 3D printing has been quietly revolutionising manufacturing for a number of years now, positively impacting the environment in a variety of ways. The new “green industrial revolution” enabled by 3D printing may well end up going down in history as one of the pioneers for a greener world.

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