3D printing isn’t just cheaper, it’s also greener, says Michigan Technological University’s Joshua Pearce.
Even Pearce, an aficionado of the make-it-yourself-and-save technology, was surprised at his study’s results. It showed that making stuff on a 3D printer uses less energy—and therefore releases less carbon dioxide—than producing it en masse in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse.
Most 3D printers for home use, like the RepRap used in this study, are about the size of microwave ovens. They work by melting filament, usually plastic, and depositing it layer by layer in a specific pattern. Free designs for thousands of products are available from outlets like Thingiverse.com.
Common sense would suggest that mass-producing plastic widgets would take less energy per unit than making them one at a time on a 3D printer. Or, as Pearce says, “It’s more efficient to melt things in a cauldron than in a test tube.” However, his group found it’s actually greener to make stuff at home.
They conducted life cycle impact analyses on three products: an orange juicer, a children’s building block and a waterspout. The cradle-to-gate analysis of energy use went from raw material extraction to one of two endpoints: entry into the US for an item manufactured overseas or printing it a home on a 3D printer.
Pearce’s group found that making the items on a basic 3D printer took from 41 percent to 64 percent less energy than making them in a factory and shipping them to the US.
Some of the savings come from using less raw material. “Children’s blocks are normally made of solid wood or plastic,” said Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering. 3D printed blocks can be made partially or even completely hollow, requiring much less plastic.
Pearce’s team ran their analysis with two common types of plastic filament used in 3D printing, including polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is made from renewable resources, such as cornstarch, making it a greener alternative to petroleum-based plastics. The team also did a separate analysis on products made using solar-powered 3D printers, which drove down the environmental impact even further.
The Latest on: 3D printing
- Sigma Labs Featured in Publication Discussing Advanced 3D Printing Capabilities in Global Manufacturingon November 20, 2019 at 5:30 am
To view the full publication, titled “Profiting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” visit: https://nnw.fm/1WhBz Now embraced by global industrial companies, 3D printing is about to disrupt the $12 ...
- Fail Of The Week: The 3D Printer Nozzle Wipe That Won’ton November 20, 2019 at 4:38 am
Some of you will be familiar with the idea of using a brush as a nozzle wipe on a 3D printer. The idea is that passing the hot end over the brush cleans any stray plastic from the nozzle, ensuring ...
- The best 3D printer and scanner gifts for makers in 2019on November 20, 2019 at 4:31 am
Maker culture is alive and thriving, thanks to an army of creatives who love making things by hand, endless YouTube how-to videos for any project imaginable and new, lower-cost hardware for everything ...
- Dental 3D Printing Market Moving Radiantly Toward 2020 by Growth Factors and Industry Share, Size, Dental Demand with Prominent Players by 2023on November 20, 2019 at 1:48 am
The Global Dental 3D Printing Market is showing promising signs to attain a CAGR of 24.5 % over the review period of 2018–2023. 3D printing is a technology that incurs less cost, produces less wastage ...
- FDM 3D Printing Shows Great Potential in Transformation of Pharmaceutical Productionon November 19, 2019 at 11:30 pm
In the recently published, ‘The Digital Pharmacies Era: How 3D Printing Technology Using Fused Deposition Modeling Can Become a Reality,’ Brazilian researchers further examine the potential of new ...
- Researchers merge 3D/4D printing with a chemical process to produce 'living' materialson November 19, 2019 at 10:26 am
Repairing and reusing plastics and delivering cancer drugs more effectively are only two of many of the potential applications a new 3D/4D printing technology might have, thanks to the pioneering work ...
- Formnext 2019: 3D metal printing, industry use cases, adoption accelerateon November 19, 2019 at 9:17 am
Ultimaker surveyed more than 2,500 3D printing pros to gauge adoption and use cases by industry. Key findings include: US market awareness for 3D printing checked in at 77%, but adoption was at 34%.
- Scientists 3D Print Skin That Develops Working Blood Vesselson November 19, 2019 at 6:34 am
Now, we may be much closer, thanks to a new technique for 3D printing skin complete with working blood vessels. The research, done at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Yale University, ...
- 3D Printing Gives Manufacturer Teethon November 19, 2019 at 1:13 am
Align Technology, the developers of the Invisalign system, has pioneered the use of 3D printing in the dental industry, printing more than 433K individualized clear aligners a day. With Align’s iTero ...
- Perdose: 72 Ways That We Could Use 3D Printing To Make More Effective Pharmaceuticalson November 18, 2019 at 10:13 pm
In a previous article, we looked at how SLS, SLA, inkjet and FDM are making pills customized. 3D printing pharmaceuticals so that patients get exactly the right dose is a burgeoning research area. We ...
via Google News and Bing News