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Environmental Impacts of 3D Printing

Jeremy Faludi (UC Berkeley)
Foundations
Location: Fire House
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(4.00, 1 rating)
Slides:   1-PDF 

The paper being presented will appear in Rapid Prototyping Journal in early 2014. A cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment was performed, comparing a CNC mill to two 3D printers: a Dimension 1200BST FDM and an Objet Connex 350 inkjet. To consider many different ways the machines can be used, 22 scenarios were scored using a method that measures 17 different environmental impacts. Results showed that the sustainability of 3D printing vs. machining depends primarily on the percent utilization of each machine, causing up to a 10x difference in impacts per part produced. At maximum utilization, one 3D printer had lower impacts than machining, but the other usually had much higher impacts (depending on the scenario.) The 3D printers had lower impacts from waste, but higher impacts from energy use.

In addition to summarizing the study, bigger-picture potential for 3D printing to become a vastly greener manufacturing method will be discussed.

Photo of Jeremy Faludi

Jeremy Faludi

UC Berkeley

Jeremy Faludi (LEED AP BD+C), is a sustainable design strategist and educator. He is co-author of the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, and has taught green product design at Stanford and elsewhere. He has contributed to six books on sustainability, including Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. A bicycle he helped design appeared in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s exhibit “Design for the Other 90%”, and he designed the prototype of AskNature.org for The Biomimicry Institute. He is currently at UC Berkeley.