We are at a moment in time where everyone is trying to conduct business in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner (which is a great thing). That is why a recent article published on Engineering.com caught our attention, 3D Printing is Greener.
This article is reporting on a new study, “Environmental Life Cycle Analysis of Distributed Three-Dimensional Printing and Conventional Manufacturing of Polymer Products”, and the study goes beyond measuring material waste and instead delves into the realm of energy consumption. The study concludes that “…3D printing requires between 41 and 68 percent less energy than making these items in a factory”. It also states, “The bottom line is, we can get substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions from making things at home. And the home manufacturer would be motivated to do the right thing and use less energy, because it costs so much less to make things on a 3D printer than to buy them off the shelf or on the Internet.”
We found this article to be extremely interesting, but since it is only a single study we wanted to see if any additional research teams had come to this same conclusion, and indeed we found a study conducted by the UC Berkeley mechanical engineering department, in which they released the following article, Is 3D printing an environmental win?, in it they also compare the energy component of 3D printing and traditional manufacturing. They conclude that “…3D printing can be greener, if it’s the right kind (FDM); but again, the biggest environmental win comes from sharing the fewest tools so each has the most utilization.”
There is always progress to be made when it comes to being environmentally friendly; but from what we are seeing so far, 3D printing is on its way to becoming a leading sustainable technology.
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