The truth is that 3D Printing really isn’t much different than typical manufacturing in terms of its environmental impact. So, it’s not necessarily environmentally-friendly, at least at this point. While it may seem a lot cleaner, because it is electronic, it consumes more energy than typical production. In fact, it consumes a lot more energy.
When compared to assembly-line style manufacturing, 3D printing consumes a whopping one hundred times more energy. However, to balance this out, most 3D printing happens with plastic materials, which, while not the most eco-friendly materials around, do have the capacity to be melted down and reworked. So, this is one “greenish” element of 3D printing.
In the future, those who work on 3D printing technology may be able to reduce the amount of energy which is consumed in order to run 3D printing presses. At present, though, this energy expenditure is remarkable high. Nonetheless, 3D printing technology offers a host of benefits to society and these benefits are going to keep coming. So, there is more to consider than environmental impact.
3D printing is the future and, at some point, it may replace assembly lines completely. However, it will be a long time before this type of technology is everywhere. This may not be a bad thing, as assembly lines keep people employed and 3D printing presses may require less human supervision, as they are highly-computerised.
Some companies are attempting to reduce the environmental impact of 3D printing by re-using plastic materials which don’t turn out correctly. 3D printing isn’t a perfect process, so some items which are made via 3D printing don’t meet quality standards. In these cases, they may be melted down and made into other things. This eliminates wastage. This type of re-use isn’t possible with most assembly-line style manufacturing processes.
3D Printing Does Have Eco-friendly Benefits
Another environmental benefit is that less materials may need to be used during the 3D printing process. It’s possible to make items of lighter weight via 3D printing presses, versus products which are created with traditional manufacturing methods. Since less materials are utilised, more resources may be preserved. This speaks to sustainability. As well, since energy is expended making materials, needing to use less materials counterbalances the energy expenditures of 3D printing presses.
How to Stay in the Loop
If you’re interested in the power and potential of 3D printing, as well as its environmental impact, you’ll find that staying in the loop is pretty simple. Every day, new articles about this form of manufacturing technology become available online. Doing occasional Google searches for new information should keep you in the loop.
3D printing technology is trickling down to the common man and women. For example, it’s possible to buy 3D printing pens which make structures out of plastic threads. The plastic threads are heated and they are extruded. These fun toys are safe enough for older children to use and many adults enjoying trying them out, too. Also, 3D printers for home use are now available.