The advent of 3D printing technology across multiple industries has created tremendous buzz in the production and manufacturing sector. On account of the low waste produced during key 3D printing methods such as casting, stamping, cutting, and moulding, a number of engineers and environmentalists have begun considering 3D printing as a green technology. Moreover, 3D printing helps in developing products onsite which eliminates the need to transport finished products. However, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of 3D printing methods reveals that there is scanty evidence to support the environment-friendly appeal of 3D printing. The theories that refer to 3D printing as a green technology ignore issues such as waste management, raw materials used for printing, and end-use of finished products.
Holistic Approach to Understanding 3D Printing Technology
The Journal of Industrial Ecology organized a special issue that aimed at understanding the overall impact of 3D printing on the environment. Although there is a possibility of large-scale environmental improvements through the use of 3D technology, the broad based repercussions of 3D technology could impact the environment negatively. To exemplify, additive manufacturing requires continual processing of parts to bring them to the desired shape, which could transcend as a con for the environment. Furthermore, the risk of hazards during additive manufacturing is also being studied by scientists in contemporary times.
Watching Out for Environmental Benefits
Custom or decentralized production is a way of improving the environment by manufacturing products in homes, offices, and other desired spaces. The advantage of manufacturing products onsite without the need to produce a set of products in factories is a key consideration for manufacturers these days.