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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.
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