How 3D printing helps you become eco-friendly

The subject of this article compels us to dive into various concepts associated with 3D printing and how it helps to stay eco-friendly. So, is it true that 3D printing could help us sustain a healthy planet? Or, is 3D Printing technology purely Eco-friendly, or is it relatively Eco-friendly? Also, why not find out how additive manufacturing is better than other existing processes of manufacturing when vouching for a greener planet.

Eco-friendly manufacturing processes have been longed for from centuries. In order to find ways to produce items that humans need, in a manner that is safe for our environment, we do have researched a lot. By building an alternative way for conserving and preserving the inhabitants and resources of our planet that consume less non-renewable energy and produce less waste could definitely help us save our planet from the doom’s day. And, 3D Printing technology has given us hope that can create and produce without destroying!

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What obstacles are in additive’s way?

Industry leaders discuss biggest obstacles facing the additive manufacturing space.

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As the first two parts of this virtual roundtable discussed, 2020 was a milestone year for additive manufacturing and the industry has a solid future ahead. Of course, part of ensuring that the anticipated future becomes a reality rests with understanding the biggest challenges they will face along the way.

Read on to hear what industry leaders identify as the biggest remaining obstacles.

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Study: 3D printing may be harmful to humans

Several new studies found that 3D printers emit toxic particles that may be harmful to humans.

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The studies, presented at the 2020 Society for Risk Analysis virtual Annual Meeting on December 15, showed that the particles released during the printing process can affect indoor air quality and public health.

For the uninitiated, 3D printers typically work by melting plastic filaments or other base materials such as nanoparticles, metals, thermoplastics etc. and then stacking the melted materials layer upon layer to form an object. When the plastic or other base materials are heated to melt they release volatile compounds into the air near the printer and the object.

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3D printing: a blessing or a threat to company value?

Patent attorney Thomas Prock explores the threats posed by additive manufacturing to automotive intellectual property portfolios

The world has progressively digitised in recent decades and the pace of change is increasing, changing products and industries beyond recognition. The ready and rapid adoption of digital technology in all parts of society is testament to the benefits digital technology provides. At the heart of these new technologies is the management of data flows, be that for the purpose of optimising manufacturing processes or assisting people in the performance of everyday tasks or even automating them altogether.

The automotive industry is no stranger to digitisation, and the particular intellectual property (IP) challenges it brings. Originally, IP conflicts were between rival automotive innovators, and solutions such as cross-licensing IP were relatively easy to agree and cost effective. More recently however, Non-Practicing Entities – entities that have no intention to make or sell the invention covered by IP – have bought up IP rights with the sole purpose of extracting royalty payments from automotive companies. The frequency of such cases has been exacerbated by the digitisation of the automotive industry and the surge in innovation, and need for IP, in the automotive data communication field.

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Addressing the risks of additive manufacturing

3D printing’s virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing offer cost-savings and increased flexibility, but there are risks.

It seems a no-brainer to adopt digital supply chains, but they carry risks that are untenable if not eliminated. For example, how do big brands seize such opportunities while maintaining part consistency and quality and protecting their intellectual property (IP) – and ultimately upholding brand integrity? 

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The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a spotlight on the opportunities presented by 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM), including the possibilities around virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing. These advantages can deliver cost-savings, increased responsiveness and flexibility to customers, without the need for huge investments. As we’ve seen, the weak link in any supply chain is maintaining and replenishing the physical inventory – an enormously expensive task.

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When it comes to 3D printing, how much sustainability is enough?

“Just because the field is progressing does not mean we have grounds for complacency.”

All students of the environment learn the three cardinal rules of sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle. And as we look to the future, pundits and thought leaders routinely point to 3D printing as a solution for improving and streamlining manufacturing to something leaner, greener and more environmentally friendly.

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Farms and factories require massive emission outputs and loads of energy. Small polymer 3D printing systems, on the other hand, are fuelled with little effort. But additive manufacturing is not a magic bullet. Is 3D printing more sustainable than traditional manufacturing methods? It depends on how you look at it.

In many ways, additive manufacturing is significantly more sustainable, and more reasonable for the environment and the earth, than traditional manufacturing methods. Let us count the ways.

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IR camera captures defects in 3D printing

Identifying defects in 3D printed items is one of the ongoing challenges to be overcome if the technology is to be more widely adopted. This development is very promising.

Small defects in 3D printed metal parts limit their performance and are roadblocks preventing the technology from being more widely used. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory theorized that the defects stemmed from small voids in the cooled printed metal. The voids (porosity) can make printed components prone to cracking and other failures.

When 3D printing metallic parts, Argonne scientists found a correlation between temperatures at the surface and defects that form below.

To check their theory, they used a 3D printer with an IR camera, a common option, to film the printing process from above. It monitored and recorded temperature data during the build process. At the same time, a high-powered X-ray from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne took a side view of the build it was underway. The goal was to use the X-rays to see voids form and correlate that with what was going on thermally on the surface where new metal was being deposited.

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Mitigate risks to IP during digital disruption

The need for IP to “catch up” with the capabilities of 3D printing is one of the points made in the book Supercharg3d: How 3D Printing Will Drive Your Supply Chain. Until it does, those considering adopting 3D printing in their supply chains should involve their legal and IP advisors to manage the risks. In this article – published in The Engineer – Marks&Clerk Senior Associate Matthew Jefferies, takes a close look at this topic.

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Intellectual property law, and intellectual property strategies, need to move to keep up with the growing 3D printing market, says Matthew Jefferies MPhys, Senior Associate, Marks&Clerk.

The term ‘digital disruption’ has become something of a cliché in recent years, a catch all term used to describe the impact of technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to new communications technologies. What is the reality of digital disruption however, and what can manufacturing and engineering focused businesses do to mitigate the associated risks?

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CNC Machining as a business strategy for 3D Printing

As the additive manufacturing company 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing prepares for production, it has one critical advantage over the competition: a standalone CNC machine shop.

In 2013, additive manufacturing (AM) was having its moment. The possibilities of the technology for industrial production were just then becoming apparent to manufacturing at large. Indeed, at that time, the view of AM was soaring from lofty media hype into a stratosphere of impossible promises. Bob Markley was having a moment of his own at that time. He had just finished a 10-year stretch as an engineer for an Indy 500 racing team before moving on to work for Rolls Royce and then General Motors, the latter of which was consolidating its Indiana workforce to Pontiac, Michigan. Unable to relocate his family from their Indiana home, the then-31-year-old Mr. Markley wrote up a business plan centered around AM — a technology he’d barely used, but one that appealed to the experimental engineering style he’d developed through racing.

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Thus, 2013 proved to be the year that Mr. Markley went all-in on AM, launching 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing in a 1,800-square-foot facility outside of Indianapolis. After opening for business, he quickly partnered with 3D Systems and brought in the company’s ProX 200 — a laser powder-bed fusion machine he still refers to today as his workhorse. Sustained financially by his original loan and a small but growing base of customers, Mr. Markley purchased a second ProX 200, followed by a 300 model and later a 320 that he beta tested for the company.

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Practices and pitfalls of 3D printing for COVID-19

By now, most of us in the manufacturing world are familiar with the steady stream of news describing organizations, large and small, providing medical equipment using 3D printers. Face masks, face shields, swabs, and parts for ventilators are the most common—and needed—as the frontline medical community struggles to heal patients while protecting themselves. What could be simpler than to create a design, prep the data, ship it to a printer and send the finished part to a happy user or manufacturer?

It is not as simple as it sounds.

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“There are literally hundreds of 3D printing designs to support the current COVID-19 response. Some work, others don’t. Some look great but do not work,” explained Dr. Jenny Chen, M.D., founder and CEO of 3DHEALS, a company focusing on education and industrial research in bioprinting, regenerative medicine, and healthcare applications using 3D printing. She was a moderator for a webinar panel titled “3D Printing Design for COVID-19,” presented April 22.

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