In recent years, 3D printing has emerged as a groundbreaking approach in the manufacturing industry. While technology is often hailed for its creative freedom, could it be an answer to fighting climate change and global warming? Climate change is a major concern that needs to be addressed on several fronts. One of the main causes of climate change is the massive accumulation of plastic on the planet. As a matter of fact, throughout their life cycle, plastics emit greenhouse gases that are a cause of global warming. The toxic chemicals present in microplastics seep into the drinking water supplies and the environment. An important approach to tackle the volume of plastic used is by developing alternative biodegradable solutions. Furthermore, materials that do not take years and years to decompose, but also damage our atmosphere and harm the planet.
3D printing is a type of additive manufacturing that is being used in several ways to combat global warming with innovative and creative solutions. Many companies in the additive manufacturing industry are working to tackle the issues that plague our environment and save it for future generations. These technologies can be a bright spot in the dark clouds that float around in the shape of global warming
3D Printing and Climate Change
So, what is the relationship between 3D printing and "going green"? Surprisingly, a lot. Whether it is turning carbon into concrete, eliminating shipment waste, or turning automobiles into lightweight machines with lesser fuel consumption; 3D printing technology is creating new opportunities for individuals and companies to manage their environmental footprint better. It is critical to solving the climate crisis over the next decade and has the potential to reduce the effect of the production industry on the planet. Let us take a look at some of the ways how 3D printing will stop climate change.
Reducing Overseas Shipping
3D printing technology uses data that has been uploaded to the internet. It is available for download to users around the world. Anyone who has access to the internet and also a 3D printer, can immediately download STL files and print their own items and parts. This can have a huge influence on overseas manufacturers whose products can be created locally with 3D printers. Of course, less transportation means less fuel consumption, reduced packaging, and storage costs. Furthermore, there would be a significant reduction in energy costs to operate and maintain these storage facilities.
Reduction of Product Waste
3D printing uses specialized printers that use plastics, metals, and also concocted filaments. The resultant prints have boundless complexity and no cost limitations with accurate results. This eliminates the need to package and assemble individual parts. It reduces waste from traditional mechanical workshops and allowing them to produce only the item itself.
Smoke, pollution, and toxic fumes are all inevitable by-products of conventional industrial methods. However, with the use of 3D printing in the manufacturing process, these by-products can be significantly reduced or completely eliminated. Various industries, from healthcare to automotive, have already integrated 3D printing on their production design. The more the manufacturing process changes and adopts 3D printing, the more emissions are reduced and the less negative impact on the planet.
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3D printing has grown as an innovative addition in the production of automotive parts, such as gear levers, door handles, etc. Like Volkswagen, many automotive giants have been using these 3D printed solutions for quite some time to streamline production. However, the key to energy efficiency is in making cars more energy effective. With 3D printing, lightweight filaments and generative designs make it possible to produce entire car chassis in a fraction of the traditional chassis weight. Companies such as BMW and Volkswagen, Local Motors, Divergent 3D, and PolyMaker Industries have invested significantly in this sector. Weight reduction is the ideal solution that will allow car manufacturers to meet and exceed current legal obligations for energy conservation and efficiency.
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Reviving Endangered Ecosystems
When natural calamities, human waste, and ecological change destroy valuable ecosystems, rebuilding them is a major challenge for the environmentalists. This challenge is now being met through the use of 3D printed solutions. For example, researchers from the University of Sydney are printing 3D replicas of the corals found in the Great Barrier Reef. This allows researchers to see exactly how the coral structure changes in response to environmental changes and also creates a true habitat for the algae-eating fish that kill corals. It is a great underwater stopgap as the long-term solution to climate change is being developed. It is only conceivable through a combination of imagination and 3D printing technology.
3D Printed Food
The 3D printed food industry is rapidly gaining popularity and will have a huge impact on the economy. It is projected to grow yearly at a rate of nearly 46% to reach $525.6 million by 2023. It can bridge the gap between production on a smaller and large scale. The food produced with 3D printing machines will not only give customers more options and improve access but will also increase the ability to combat hunger around the world. In addition, 3D printing of food will promote safer production practices, healthier nutritional options, and more ecologically friendly methods in various industries. Studies show that people around the world waste about $1 trillion of food every year. This can be tackled with the help of 3D printing by turning waste into valuable reusable products. One such approach is transforming food waste into biodegradable plastic.
3D Printing and Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Unknown to most, 3D printing is silently revolutionizing production approaches and having a positive impact on the environment in a lot of ways. The new environmentally-friendly industrial revolution made possible by 3D printing is the key to combating climate change and gives hope for a better future.
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