Manufacturing with 3D printing is now a fast-growing field, with the technology becoming more accessible and affordable. Some think that it will revolutionize all kinds of manufacturing. But, while it offers some advantages, the process can be energy intensive and wasteful of material. A recent study has a comparison of some 3D printing and conventional milling methods.
There are many different kinds of 3D printing, and this study is only an early examination of a few methods. The environmental impacts between different printers (different printing methods) were not as great as the those between occasionally operated printers and ones in more consistent production (which is more efficient). "In cases like this, job shops legitimately can argue that they provide both economic and environmental advantage to their customers."
Equally importantly, the kind of object being produced can make a huge difference in the amount material used. An object with a great deal of hollow space will be easier to produce by 3D printing rather than milling. In some instances, "an inkjet 3D printer (which lays down polymeric ink and UV-cures it layer by layer) wastes 40 to 45 percent of its ink, not even counting support material, and it can't be recycled."
Regardless of method, 3D printing is not going to replace other methods of mass production, any more than laser printing replaced all conventional printing. "3D printing is not going to replace injection-molding for mass-manufactured products (plastic parts made in the millions). It is replacing machining for smaller runs (1 unit, 10 units, maybe 1,000 units)." Each has its advantages, for its appropriate application.
written by Enviro Equipment Blog, July 26, 2013
written by Sam, July 26, 2013
written by Tomas J, August 02, 2013
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