Executive Briefings

Weighing the Environmental Impact of 3-D Printing

From improved efficiency to more advanced fabrication possibilities, specialized 3-D printing sub-sectors are emerging that cater to an array of enterprise buyers with money to inject into the field. Machines can now produce materials with potential health applications, such as human cartilage, plus batteries, LEDs and motor components. But what is the environmental impact of 3-D printing?

Weighing the Environmental Impact of 3-D Printing

“These advances have brought the technology to a tipping point — it appears ready to emerge from its niche status and become a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes in an increasing number of applications,” according to a 2014 report by New York-based consultancy McKinsey & Company.

In the meantime, researchers are also starting to piece together the puzzle on what the proliferation of 3-D printing technology could mean from a sustainability perspective. Generally, higher-volume production lowers the amount of energy wasted. But the amount of waste and potential for harmful environmental impacts of materials used in the supply chain still varies.

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“These advances have brought the technology to a tipping point — it appears ready to emerge from its niche status and become a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes in an increasing number of applications,” according to a 2014 report by New York-based consultancy McKinsey & Company.

In the meantime, researchers are also starting to piece together the puzzle on what the proliferation of 3-D printing technology could mean from a sustainability perspective. Generally, higher-volume production lowers the amount of energy wasted. But the amount of waste and potential for harmful environmental impacts of materials used in the supply chain still varies.

Read Full Article

Weighing the Environmental Impact of 3-D Printing