3D Printers Should Not Be Banned

3D Printers Should Not Be Banned

Last week we posted our thoughts on Gartner’s Nick Jones’ article suggesting that 3D printers might be banned in the future as they might overflow our streets with discarded plastic items. We don’t think the world will look like a McDonalds Happy Meal Toy graveyard anytime soon, and apparently neither does anyone else, either.


Followup articles quickly appeared at Ponoko and Erik de Bruijn’s blog, where the comments flew in definite disagreement. Many commenters cited exploratory work on biodegradable materials, but also the notion that residential or even distributed 3D printing would save significant amounts of carbon due to avoidance of object shipment. It’s even possible to run our home fabber using wind/solar/geothermal power. One commenter asked:

The question is should I be getting carbon credits for using a reprap in my direct recycling efforts?

We think 3D printing can be an environmentally friendly method of manufacturing, if done right. The commenters and thousands of others working on the problem are going to make certain it is.

Via Ponoko and Erik de Bruijn

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5 Responses

  1. I can't believe anyone is taking this seriously. I think it shows a profound misunderstanding of the politics behind "why things get banned".

    Then again, my incredulity shows a profound misunderstanding of politics of a different sort… like religious people leaping at the opportunity to amplify any meme that might indicate they're being attacked.

    Relax people. (sigh) No one's going to ban you for producing pollution… because the only people who would want to ban you, produce so much more pollution than you do, that it's literally killing people.

  2. "We think 3D printing can be an environmentally friendly method of manufacturing, if done right."

    Why is it that regardless of how pro technology a writer happens to be that there always seems to be a caveat thrown inwhich implies that outside meddling in a new technology might be acceptable at some point?

    "ceramics are very wonderful, EXCEPT that once baked, they do not break down well and can not be recycled, only down-cycled. "

    Not so. Anybody who has worked with ceramics knows that broken and/or discarded ceramics can be usefully ground up and used as an admixture with new clay. This "grog" is superior to raw clay in that it tends to crack much less.

  3. I'm appalled at how much traction Nick Jones' article has gained. It seems almos that he wrote it to get a reaction as it was rather poorly thought through.

    When the current alternative is to produce hundreds of thousands of non-custom plastic parts in order to justify the cost of the injection mold, how could producing exactly to demand do anything but reduce the amount of plastic we are putting into the market place.

    I can't begin to guess what Mr. Jones' motivation was for writing such a short-sighted (and very poorly backed up) article.

    As far as the previous commenter's link to the ceramics printers, ceramics are very wonderful, EXCEPT that once baked, they do not break down well and can not be recycled, only down-cycled. Still, any time we are producing to demand instead of flooding a market based on sales projections (or prayers), we are contributing to an overall healthy production system. I admit that the technology is really cool to boot.

  4. http://www.rdmag.com/News/2009/04/Inexpensive-3-D-printing-lets-students-experiment/“ rel=”nofollow”> http://www.rdmag.com/News/2009/04/Inexpensive-3-D-printing-lets-students-experiment/

    This story is, literally, stone age meets digital age: University of Washington researchers are combining the ancient art of ceramics and the new technology of 3-D printing. Along the way, they are making 3-D printing dramatically cheaper

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