Green Up Your Business With 3D Printing

By 2030, greenhouse gases are to be reduced by 55 percent compared to 1990, the European Union demands. As a result, more and more companies are facing the challenge of a more sustainable production. In addition to obvious measures, there are several rather unknown paths that can be taken to achieve sustainability goals. One of these is 3D printing. But how exactly can 3D printing help to become an eco-friendly company?

Nature

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 3D printing reduces energy use by 25 percent and can cut waste and material costs by up to 90 percent. Additive manufacturing has some significant environmentally friendly attributes and certainly meets the 3Rs for sustainability: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Let’s have a look at how this works specifically and how you can make this printing process even more sustainable. 

Doing More With Less

Compared to traditional manufacturing methods 3D printing generates between 70 to 90 percent less scrap waste. Additive manufacturing places the material precisely where it is needed, instead of carving out a part from a block of material. Thus, parts of e.g. cars or aircrafts can be printed with less raw material, are therefore lighter and save fuel. 

In addition, pre-designing product models on the computer prior to the 3D printing process helps identify where parts can be improved or might fail, ultimately leading to fewer prototypes and less waste. Further below in the article, you will learn how you can also save material or test bodies even when upscaling your 3D printing processes. Stay tuned.

The Potential of 3D Printing for the Circular Economy 

Now that we’ve looked at how 3D printing can reduce waste in production, let’s focus on the two other Rs: Reuse and Recycle. With these two we move on to the area of Circular Economy. 3DPrint.com sums it up very well:

“One industrial operation’s trash is another one’s treasure”. 

Plastic waste for example can be used as a raw material for 3D printing but even natural materials such as spent coffee grounds, cellulose or algae. You see: The potential of 3D printing for reusing materials and returning them into the economy in the form of a new product are enormous. 

Although we have learned that 3D printing brings some compelling sustainable features,it is a long, expensive process of trial and error that may well generate a high amount of waste until the production of a part can be scaled up to thousands of units through additive manufacturing.

Sustainable Serial 3D Printing With the Materialise Process Tuner

This problem is now addressed by Dutch 3D printing company Materialise. The specialist for 3D printing software recently launched a new process tuner for additive serial production that aims to support manufacturing companies, service bureaus and machine builders in upscaling their production in a fast, cost-efficiently and sustainable way. 

“When we ask companies what the main obstacles are for scaling up their production, they tell us it’s too expensive, too complex and too time consuming. As a result, some companies think twice before scaling up”,

declares Stefaan Motte, VP and General Manager of Materialise Software. 

With their Materialise Process Tuner they want to change that and to offer a solution for the complex, expensive process of upscaling based on these three key features: advanced automation, artificial intelligence and intelligence simulation. This software automates the required development and validation process of the different parameters and thereby enables optimal print settings without wasting test prints or development time. In their 3D printing factories, Materialise has even been able to reduce the costs per optimised parameter by 50 percent thanks to their invention. 

The Materialise Process Tuner can be deployed via a web browser or API which makes it the company’s first cloud-based Magics application. Besides, companies can also install and run the Materialise Process Tuner on-premise. The release of the Materialise Process Tuner is expected in the first half of 2021.

As you can see, 3D printing and the prospect of its sustainable upscaling brings some huge benefits to your production and accordingly has the potential to revolutionise industrial manufacturing. 

Did you already come across other possibilities or innovations to make 3D printing even more sustainable? We are looking forward to your recommendations in the comments!