Researchers conducted preliminary lifecycle analyses of three small plastic objects: a child's building block, a spout for a watering can, and a citrus juicer. (Source: Joshua Pearce, Michigan Technological University)
Thanks Ann, for such an informative post , According to me 3D printers used for personal use will be more cost effective as compared to those used for mass production because less raw material will be used. The example that you mentioned in your article regarding children block makes it very clear that 3D printing can be cheap because when we make objects by orselves we can chooe the type of the product , traditionally such blocks are made of wood but we can make them with plastic making them partially totally hollow from inside this reduces the material and drop down the cost of manufacturing as well.
3D printing is no doubt a greener technology , less energy is required in this process which in result produces very little carbon dioxide which is harmfull to the enviornment . I have read somewhere that people are using filamaker that is a machine in their homes with 3D printers that takes in used plastic and releases fresh strings of plastic.
Color me skeptical with the quote of "an average household could save up to $2,000 a year making their own plastic products at home". I guess that the "Up To" clause covers them, but I really don't see many households purchasing $2000 worth of plastic products a year which can be printed at home!
That's a good point. "Up to" can be great qualifier to exaggerate.
Printing children's product is problematic. There are scores of regulations for reasons. Making children's toys from recycled plastic is nice and trendy but not very safe. For example, it would be almost impossible to know if the toy is BPA free. Anyone giving them away as gifts or selling the item at a DIY/Makers Fair could get into trouble for endangering children.
Good perspective on the energy savings benefits of 3D printing. However, one further consideration to evaluate when classifying a 3D printer as 'green' is which process is being used? I may have a different definition than others, but I assume that 'green' also means less harmful or toxic to human beings.
Some 3D printers may use less energy, but certain processes use hazardous or toxic materials (which can be harmful to humans). One 3D process that I used would cause skin allergies if the user was over-exposed due to frequent contact. Another process caused my co-worker to have a brief case of silicosis. I would suggest that in addition to energy consumption, that 'green' metrics also include the potential impact to the environment and to the operator's health.
Plastic bags can become useful as either raw materials for plastics or feedstock for fuel. It's when they're not recycled that they become a major problem. That's what California's bag ban will prevent.
NASA's JPL and Caltech have achieved the mind-boggling feat of 3D printing multiple metals in a single end-part, grading from one alloy to another. They've also developed a method for combining metals with carbon fiber composites in end-production parts.
More and more robots are becoming more autonomous all the time. Now Lockheed Martin has completed a demo mission with two completely autonomous robotic vehicles performing resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
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