I commented yesterday on the ridiculous study commissioned by the American Christmas Tree Association that claims PVC Christmas trees are better for the environment than natural trees. A study earlier this year by a consulting firm in Canada makes the opposite conclusion. ”The results for this impact category are clear: the natural tree is better than the artificial tree considering an average life span of six years for the artificial tree. This conclusion holds true for resource depletion as well,” state researchers for Ellipsos of Montréal, Quebec. If someone kept an artificial tree for a very long time, “ideally over 20 years”, they could reduce the impacts of the artificial tree, says Ellipsos.
If you like to drive deep into the country to chop down your own tree, then you could be better off with a PVC tree, strictly from an environmental lifecycle analysis, says the study. I say, go into the country, have a great time with your kids, and chop down your own tree. Deposit the tree at a composting site when done. I didn’t do any research, but how is that worse than a PVC tree made in China?
Thanks to my colleague Don Loepp at Plastics News for citing my blog post, and pointing out the Ellipsos citation in one of the Plastics News comments.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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