3D printing environmental impact

When looking for a more sustainable way to manufacture your products, you may have stumbled upon the magical world of 3D printing. But is 3D printing really that environmentally friendly? In this article we will inform you on the environmental impact of 3D printing.

Why is 3D printing environmentally friendly?

This is because 3D printers use a technique called additive manufacturing instead of the traditional extracting manufacturing. So, what is additive manufacturing? In simple terms this means that the 3D printer creates a product by adding material, thus wasting a little to no more than needed.

Whereas in the traditional way a product is extracted from a block of material (like wood, metal, or stone) by carving and cutting. This method leaves a lot more waste that is being thrown in the refuse container.

The environmental impact of 3D printing is in the users hands

Printing technologies allow us to create products in a sustainable way. But that doesn’t mean that the environmental impact of 3D printers is necessarily lower. As with most things, the impact of these printers on the environment mostly depends on how it’s used.

1. Biodegradable / eco-friendly filaments

There are lots of benefits to 3D printing but also some concerns regarding the use of plastic. The environmental impact of 3D printing can be lowered by using biodegradable and eco-friendly filaments such as PLA. PLA is manufactured from raw materials which are renewable and even biodegradable in industrial composting plants. Want to know more about eco-friendly filaments?

2. Well-thought prints

Wasting of material can come in various forms. When you want to develop a product most people will create a few prototypes before they reach the final product. All those prints cost not only material but also energy. There are a few options to consider optimizing this process and minimize the waste.

  • Make sure that the 3D-model is thought through before it’s printed.
  • Sometimes it’s possible to print parts instead of the whole product.
  • While developing a product that won’t be under pressure consider using less filling.
  • Work with scale models whenever possible.

3. Invest in the right printer

When you are manufacturing products it’s very important to invest in the right printer. Every printer is different and therefore you should find the right match for the job. This will save you energy costs and a lot of time. We would be happy to advise you.

What is the environmental impact of 3D printing?

So, to summarize this  and answer the question “how environmentally friendly is 3D printing?”. This way of additive manufacturing can be very sustainable but it all comes down to the users choice. If you want to answer this question for your company, ask yourself the following:
1. Are you using biodegradable / eco-friendly filaments?
2. Can you improve your prints to use less material to be more efficient?
3. Are you using the right printer for your products?

Don’t hesitate to contact us

We hope that this article has provided you with the information you were looking for. If you have any further questions about the sustainability of 3D printing feel free to contact us. Also, if you are looking for a more sustainable way to manufacture your products, we would love to explore the possibilities of 3D printing with you.

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