The word is in: An article in yesterday’s New York Times declares that stainless steel is better than plastic bottles for the environment–if one stainless bottle takes the place of at least 50 plastic bottles. The two writers of the column are developing a software product that conducts lifecycle assessments. They issued their verdict on stainless steel bottles after taking into account the environmental impacts of mining iron ore, chromium, and nickel, transporting them large distances, making the steel, transporting the steel, fabricating the bottles, and so on.
I can’t comment on the quality of the argument because zero data is provided on any of the inputs, and no information at all is provided on the plastic product.Assuming they are correct, however, isn’t this a little strange? Under what circumstances would someone use a stainless steel bottle to drink water? A hike maybe. No, stainless is too heavy. And how does stainless steel get into the recycling stream? Do you take it to a car shredder? What if people re-fill plastic bottles to drink water?
And what about the environmental waste of printing this silliness on half a page of the New York Times and distributing it across North America to a million people?
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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