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.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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