The subject of this article compels us to dive into various concepts associated with 3D printing and how it helps to stay eco-friendly. So, is it true that 3D printing could help us sustain a healthy planet? Or, is 3D Printing technology purely Eco-friendly, or is it relatively Eco-friendly? Also, why not find out how additive manufacturing is better than other existing processes of manufacturing when vouching for a greener planet.
Having stated so, we’d like to get into elaborating these questions without much ado.
Dissecting the definition of the word “eco-friendly”
Eco-friendly manufacturing processes have been longed for from centuries. In order to find ways to produce items that humans need, in a manner that is safe for our environment, we do have researched a lot. By building an alternative way for conserving and preserving the inhabitants and resources of our planet that consume less non-renewable energy and produce less waste could definitely help us save our planet from the doom’s day. And, 3D Printing technology has given us hope that can create and produce without destroying!
What if 3D printing technology helps reduce the amount of waste generated during manufacturing when compared to the conventional manufacturing methods? Wouldn’t you consider 3D printing technology eco-friendlier than other manufacturing technologies? Such a view would lead to observations that can be distilled into meaningful conclusions.
There are a plethora of ways in which 3D Printing technology can be beneficial from an environmental perspective, according to Dr. Martin Baumers. Dr. Baumers belongs to EPSRC Centre of Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham. He believes on a number of facts stated below:
1) On-demand production services of 3D Printing technology may mean a fall in the required and needed amount of raw material.
2) Cults in carbon emissions and decreased wastage originating from the printing process would affect savings during the distribution stage.
Factors in which 3D Printing technology is more eco-friendly than other manufacturing technologies
- One of the areas wherein 3D Printing technology has proven to be eco-friendlier is mass production. The facts and figures from the market make us conclude how 3D Printing technology has a lesser impact on our environment compared to other manufacturing technologies.
- In terms of Carbon Footprint, 3D Printing technology manages to stay at the lower end. Even when you consider the complete product life cycle i.e. starting from extracting raw materials, assembling, refining, manufacturing, assembling, using, and maintaining, the technology demonstrates a huge advantage over other manufacturing technologies.
- Based on estimation by experts, more and more use of 3D Printing technology would mean that manufacturing is returning into the hands of local producers. If that holds, the shipping charges, air cargo volumes, and the need for storage facilities would decrease. And yet, customization and quality of products would increase.
- The concept of on-demand 3D Printing reduces the overall energy waste and has a lesser carbon footprint. The complete environmental damage cost by assembling, transporting, logistics, maintaining, and storing would be close to elimination.
- Computer-generated designs will reduce overall manufacturing costs, improve energy, and resource usage. Additionally, there will be an enhancement in the form, function, performance, and durability of the product.
Experts take and Statistics about 3D Printing technology’s Energy Use, Material, and Transport
Starting with energy, Dr. Baumers states how 3D Printing technology uses less energy than other manufacturing technologies when measured by the amount of plastic needed to create each part or a functional prototype.
The melting of lesser material and using lesser raw material as you’d only have to melt the plastic material that would form the part of your final product is what drives Dr. Baumer’s statement.
It is also to be noted how waste created in mass manufacturing requires further energy to melt. Using additive manufacturing little waste is created because the goods are made in smaller batches.
According to the US Department of Energy, 3D Printing could be worth 5 million USD by 2020. The technology has the potential to cut material costs by 90 percent and energy costs by 50 percent.
Coming to materials, the main advantage of 3D Printing technology is that it requires no tooling. Without a cookie cutter, you cannot make cookies, whereas by using 3D Printing technology you can give life the ideas that are in your mind.
Stating about Transport used by 3D Printing technology, the ATKINS research claims how products developed by it can be up to 50 percent lighter than the same products manufactured using other technologies.
Figures like saving 100 kilograms in Aerospace means saving 2.5 million USD worth of fuel are suggested by Dr. Phil Reeves, the managing director of Econolyst.
Carbon savings equivalent to three to four orders of magnitude or more than CO2 emitted in making them is truly dramatic for the aerospace components if experts are to be believed.
It is not to be concluded that 3D Printing technology is absolutely positive for the environment. At the moment, it is not clear how big 3D Printing could turn out to be. Claims made about the technology’s use of energy, transport, and material still face healthy skepticism from experts such as Nick Owen, the director of 3D Print, UK, and others. But there are a lot of studies indicating immense growth in this sector.
Having stated so, claims about this technology being ‘a very energy-thirsty process’, ‘The technology that consumes 100 times more electrical energy than traditional mass manufacturing to make the object of the same weight,’ lay in its way.
The fact that 3D Printing technology will become cheaper and efficient in the coming years, would be able to give a complete picture. Intriguing research by an American team that has started 3D Printing mini solar panels also needs to be taken into account. Because it hints at the reality that not only is this technology eco-friendly, but is also giving birth to other technologies that are eco-friendly. So, attaching yourself to such a technology would obviously mean subscribing yourself to become a more eco-friendlier version than what you currently are. That’s for sure. If you’re a fan of Eco-Friendly traveling, here is everything you should know to make it happen.