Green 3D Printing
Additive Manufacturing (AM) vs. Subtractive Manufacturing (SM)
When thinking of SM, think of a chisel and hammer being used, with a large block of material, which is eventually dwindled down to a final product. This process creates a lot of wasted material. Many process still use subtractive manufacturing techniques, such as: SLS, milling, sintering and many more.
With AM, you almost completely eliminate waste material. At the very least, you reduce it significantly. SM processes can usually only recycle a maximum of 50% of wasted material, creating toxic by-products in the process. AM builds your part , layer-by-layer, right in front of your eyes. As you watch your part grow, the only waste-material generated is support material – which is biodegradable, safe to handle and kept to a minimum (only exists in “voids” that have to be built on).
Say Hello to the End of Mass Production
Massive errors can accompany mass production. Before 3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing industry, if a design flaw was not noticed early in a product’s development lifecycle/design phase, it was mass produced with the error. This resulted in a massive waste in resources (material, time, effort, money, etc.). Mass production also takes a lot of time to complete, which is not an issue when 3D printing.
With 3D printing, your product, your part can be ready in a matter of hours. A tangible, working model is ready right off the print tray, allowing for inspection and testing. Catching design flaws early in the production lifecycle can make a difference of millions of dollars.
Unlike mass production, even the average Joe can use 3D printing. Desktop 3D printers are available at terrific price points, which offer the same affordability and convenience typically
reserved for large-scale manufacturing facilities.
Repair, Repeat, Recycle
Unlike previous generations, the common person lacks the skills to execute a simple repair. With the complete customization 3D printing offers, you can 3D print anything you can imagine. This freedom of design allows you to create a custom phone case if you need one. Snapped the back cover of your TV remote? Just 3D print another. Cracked the lid of a plastic container? No problem, just hit print. Wobbly desk? Just 3D print a new footer to even it out!
The possibilities are endless as your only limitation is your imagination.
As 3D printing materials expand (we already offer over 100 different materials for any application!), we are going to notice the expansion of bio-friendly materials. Right now plastic polymers dominate material options, however, we have already seen the emergence of bio-compatible materials that have been used for implants and prosthetics.
As material selection grows, so too will the market. This cycle of events will propel 3D printing into the next generation and beyond!