A study by two business school professors makes the case that green manufacturing is not an expense; in fact it’s a money-maker. It took 20 years, but a Subaru plant in Indiana that makes 800 cars a day has reduced by waste 47 percent and makes use of 99.9 percent of the remaining waste. Nothing goes to a landfill, and dumpsters have been converted to recycling bins. One of the biggest problems was a toxic solvent used to flush painting systems. Subaru now distills impurities from used solvent so that it can be re-used. The impurities go to a company that makes coatings for steel industry ladles. There are a thousand examples, but one of the more intriguing (odder?) is to use all cafeteria food waste in a circular composting track. One day’s waste would be placed next to the last day’s in a plan under study. Special worms devour the waste, leaving rich soil behind. Or, I guess, Subaru could just hire workers who clear their plates.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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