Sunday, December 7, 2014

3D Printing and Ecology: Pt 1 - Innovation

3D Printing and Ecology: Pt 1 - Innovation

The past few years the 3D printing industry has expanded into a new consumer and commercial
commodity. The commercial platforms are escalating to revolutionary heights and consumer platforms with an open source base for designs are demonstrating that 3D printing could easily be the next product that will be in everyone’s home, similarly as the cell phone, the computer or the television before it. In a technologically thriving generation of tablets, wearable tech, and electric vehicles, 3D printing is proving to be an attainable and resourceful commodity where the innovation is limited to the imagination of the designer.
            One of the environmental concerns over the 3D printing revolution: is it truly greener than manufacturing. One of the commodities of 3D printing is the capacity and potential in reduction of mass manufacturing waste. Bringing the manufacturing of “printable” goods versus conventional methods such as injection molded goods to the home demonstrates the ability to produce items in smaller runs than that of mass manufacturing. The economic and environmental advantages are spread between the two methods by the ability to run fewer machines, printing the most jobs individually in a mass production setting, predominately because of the advantages of printing parts simultaneously rather than machines producing them consecutively.
            The innovation of 3D printing allows users to print from a variety of plastic materials including ABS, PLA filament, and some cases metal material. Recent builds and methods have enabled users to use plastic waste to generate material to print from. This form of using recycled materials to print from reduces the ecological impact produced from printing, minimizing “high-impact” resourcing that “virgin materials” generate during manufacturing. Soon, machines like the RecycleBot, which utilize waste material such as rejected prints, milk containers, etc. will be available for consumers to use as an alternative to standard filament for desktop printers.
Sources:
Adam Morales





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