From many previous posts, you can see that 3-D printing can be very beneficial to our society. Many people, however, argue whether it is more or less harmful to our environment. Although 3-D printing has been shown to be able to create objects that can enhance people’s well-being, it is also important to question if it affects our environment negatively or positively, a factor that will ultimately affect our own health.
Advocates of 3-D printing believe that 3-D printing is a more eco-friendly process to manufacture objects because it uses energy and resources more efficiently.
3-D printing allows people to create objects without having to use several parts, which reduces the amount of space, material, and emissions that additional machinery may take. A quote from 3D Systems explains that, “By its very nature 3D printing and additive manufacturing create products, parts and assemblies one layer at a time using only the necessary amount of material required for each process with near zero waste in an energy efficient process.” Instead of putting together several parts to create an object, a 3-D printer is capable of simply creating any object from top-to-bottom.
In addition to this, because a 3-D printer does not require the use of several parts, it also reduces the amount of emissions created from transportation. 3D Systems explains that 3-D printing, “eliminates waste, expensive transportation and costly tooling required by traditional processes.” Rather than having to purchase and deliver parts from different manufacturers, 3-D printer users can manufacture a whole object themselves.
Because of the accessibility and ease of creating a single object, 3-D printing can also be done on-demand at the location it is needed. This not only continues to reduce the amount of transportation pollution, but also reduces the space and resources needed to store objects that are manufactured elsewhere.
3-D printer advocates also argue that 3-D printing tends to use more eco-friendly materials for their manufacturing.
Many companies, such as XYZPrinting have developed many different options for eco-friendly printing materials. An article explains that XYZPrinting have, “released a new line of new PLA filaments as well as refillable ABS filament cartridges for their devices which provide a biodegradable option.”
The article also states that, “The company’s ABS filament cartridges can now also be refilled as well, and that allows 3D printer operators to minimize the environmental impact … on the purchase of new cartridges in the process.” Because 3-D printing is fairly new technology, many developers are more conscious of the environmental factors of manufacturing, and are taking steps to create more eco-friendly materials. 3-D printing is not only using greener materials, but is also a new technology where more people will pay attention to small ways they can help the environment.
Supporters and users of 3-D printing believe that it is less harmful to the environment. They argue that it has many benefits such as being able to produce objects more accessibly and closer to where they are needed. 3-D printers are also flexible manufacturers, and are able to use a variety of recycled and eco-friendly materials. 3-D printing can be used in a variety of ways that is more efficient than regular manufacturing and we should expand, develop, and take advantage of it in order to be able to continue manufacturing objects in a less wasteful way.