Eco-blog GreenProphet recognizes the potential green value of 3D printing in a recent post. They were inspired by Objet's recent experiment in 3D printing an entire car dashboard (which, by the way, has been done before by 3D Systems as you can see an entire Mercedes dashboard in their lobby).
Objet's automobile experiment attempted to 3D print a production car dashboard assembled from some 20 unique 3D printed parts as their contribution to StreetScooter. It's an "affordable electric car" project undertaken by a consortium of eighty companies.
GreenProphet correctly realized several key green benefits to 3D printing:
- Can utilize greener materials such as plant-based biodegradable PLA plastics, paper and even sand.
- Wastes less material than injection molding, milling and other traditional manufacturing techniques.
- Reduces the distance products and replacement parts must be shipped.
- Allows consumers to reshape and recycle end-of-life products.
- Enables architects and designers to rapidly to prototype green concepts.
We think the main benefit could eventually be the reduction in shipping, which in some cases is eliminated. Another benefit is the reduction in material used by designing and printing parts that have complex but incredibly strong internal structures. This approach is difficult or impossible using conventional manufacturing techniques.