How important is sustainability in additive manufacturing?

During Formnext 2021, the four-day international trade fair for additive manufacturing, we saw new and optimized machines, innovative materials, software packages and post-processing solutions and applications. In recent years, it has become clear to many manufacturers, but especially to users, which technologies and materials will continue to dominate the market in the future. Instead of numerous new innovations, the focus is now on product optimization as well as optimization of the AM supply chain. Furthermore, in addition to the goal of creating more effective machines for series production and automating production processes, both of which are helping to solidify AM’s presence in Industry 4.0, sustainability is also becoming a main focus in the development of additive manufacturing. But what specific demands does the market place on companies? And how are they facing up to current and future challenges? We were out and about at Formnext and were able to talk to some of the exhibitors about this and find out more about the aspirations of the different players in AM.

As a process in itself, additive manufacturing already represents a more sustainable means of production. This is particularly evident in the fact that 3D printing eliminates the use of excess material and thus unnecessary waste virtually from the outset. The ability to use generative design also plays an important role in terms of part optimization and is one of the main advantages of 3D printing compared to traditional manufacturing methods. In addition, a 3D printer enables on-demand manufacturing. This not only saves time, but also eliminates the need for long transport routes and storage areas, consequently reducing CO2 footprints.

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3D printing clean(er) and more sustainable energy and parts

Can AM play a part in tomorrow’s sustainable energy mix and will it be worth it?

Wind turbines are one source of renewable energy that is target in Joe Biden's platform

Establishing additive manufacturing as a truly sustainable production method inevitably entails powering tomorrow’s 3D printers. Small polymer systems require minimal power, but farms of thousands of machines, larger PBF systems and especially metal systems do and will require massive amounts of energy to function. 3D printing can facilitate distributed manufacturing, which means that products will be less reliable on transportation, so the main challenge in making AM more sustainable is by powering 3D printers using clean energy.

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3D printing offers new sustainable supply chain paradigm

3D printing establishes a new era for sustainable manufacturing.

These days, there are several companies that put sustainability in the driver’s seat. If they intend to realize a net zero carbon, fully regenerative economy while reducing overall environmental footprint, sustainability must underscore everything.

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Any company aiming to remain competitive and viable beyond this decade is redefining its business priorities around accelerated, expansive change that is also better for the planet. More and more leaders are asking themselves whether the world can be transformed by rethinking their approach to design and manufacturing. However, true resiliency requires looking beyond a company’s own operations to its entire ecosystem.

When HP surveyed global digital manufacturing and 3D printing decision makers in late 2020, an overwhelming majority (89%) said they were changing their business models, and at least nine out of 10 were investigating new and more sustainable supply chain models. One reason is because supply chains are a conduit to widespread sustainable innovation, but only where there’s a willingness to redefine manufacturing paradigms.  

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Ford, HP turn 3D printing waste into parts

Ford and HP are looking to make 3D printing technology more sustainable. The giants of industry are teaming up to reuse spent 3D printing parts and powders for vehicle parts, minimizing waste in the process.

a fuel-line clip for the Ford F-250 made in collaboration with HP using 3D printing waste

Ford and HP are testing the process by making injection-molded fuel-line clips for the Ford F-250 Super Duty. According to Ford, the recycled parts are lighter, less expensive, and more resistant that conventional fuel-line clips. Because the project has panned out successfully so far, Ford is looking to bring its innovation to as many as 10 new vehicles.

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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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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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How 3D printing can impact climate change and business this decade

3D printing is the essence of tech for good. Over the next decade it will be crucial to our ability to solve the climate crisis and it has huge potential to lessen the impact of manufacturing on the planet.

But the business case for embracing 3D printing is just as strong. The technology has the potential to transform every industry and change the way we work and live in the future. Within the manufacturing sector it will play a significant role in reducing waste, challenging global supply chains and offering greater flexibility in the manufacturing process.

Last year, the world experienced unparalleled growth in the 3D printing market. Entrepreneurs have clamored to enter this space for the last five years, competing to develop new software and applications. The venture capital market raised huge funds, to the sum of over $1.1 billion, by 3D printing start-ups in 2019 alone. We are already seeing unprecedented adoption rates and aftermarket supply chain growth.

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Sustainability trends in 3D printing you need to know

HP released its list of predictions for 3D printing and digital manufacturing in 2020. Informed by extensive interviews with a team of experts, this year’s research identifies top trends that will have a major impact on advancing Industry 4.0 such as the need for more sustainable production, how automation will transform the factory floor, and the rise of data and software as the backbone of digital manufacturing.

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“The year ahead will be a time of realizing 3D printing and digital manufacturing’s true potential across industries,” said Pete Basiliere, Founder, Monadnock Insights. “As HP’s trend report indicates, digital manufacturing will enable production of users’ ideal designs by unlocking new and expanded software, data, services, and industrial production solutions that deliver more transformative experiences while also disrupting legacy industries.”

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UK: 3D printing the circular economy through re-distributed manufacturing

As 3D printing revolutionizes industries around the world, it is inevitable that economies will be affected too as business models and supply chains are transformed. Researchers discuss these issues and their findings in the recently published ‘Sustainable Production in a Circular Economy: A Business Model for Re-distributed Manufacturing.’

The researchers list new technological elements that are having an impact such as robotics and the Internet of Things—combined with localized issues like labor costs and the UK economy, as well as enormous global concerns like climate change. The concept and study of re-distributed manufacture (RdM) is developed with an IDEF (Icam DEFinition for Function Modelling) description to serve as a guide for the implementation of the RdM concept in the consumer goods industry.

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3D printing everything: Ultra-cheap, zero-waste products are coming

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3D printing is about to transform manufacturing as we know it, decimating waste, multiplying speed to market, and harnessing never-before-used materials.

Additive manufacturing products and services are projected to more than double by 2024, just five years from today. But not only will 3D printing turn supply chains on their heads here on Earth—shifting how and who manufactures our products—but it will be the vital catalyst for making space colonies (and their infrastructure) possible.

Welcome to the 2030 era of tailor-made, rapid-fire, ultra-cheap, and zero-waste product creation… on our planet, and far beyond.

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