Environmental Impact of Rapid Prototyping


Mass manufacturing has been one of the greatest contributors to polluting the planet throughout the 20th Century and the early 21st Century leaving behind a dangerous and costly imprint on the delicate ecosystem of Earth and the health of people the world over. Today, rapid prototyping is taking control over these planet-killing processes through environmental friendly and socially responsible business practices that are certain to improve the health of the planet and the health of humanity one 3D printer at a time.

Locally Sourced Materials

 Many rapid prototyping services are revolutionizing the industry even further by focusing on creating designs that utilize locally sourced materials rather than depending upon costly imports. Many of the houses being built by rapid prototyping are using local materials such as clay and dirt to construct the foundations and external framework rather than to waste money on expensive imported materials such as bricks, wood, and other materials traditionally used in the house-building process. Also, recycled materials and manufacturing waste are also being utilized to construct large rapid prototyping projects. Locally sourced materials are having a tremendous positive influence on reducing the dangerous environmental impacts from traditional global supply chains.

Drastically Reduce Shipping

As more and more people turn to rapid prototyping, the shipping industry is forced to streamline their fleets even further thus greatly reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases that are polluting cities and causing health issues and increasing healthcare costs. 3D printing not only has positive implications on drastically reducing the need for highly polluting shipping lanes and transportation methodologies, it also has a positive impact on the overall time it takes to complete production and end products. People are building houses in days instead of months or years. Businesses no longer have to wait long lead times for essential parts to complete an end product because they can print it in-house or source it from a rapid prototyping services company. And, every truck or plane that is removed from the road or the air can only benefit the overall health of the people on the planet.

Eliminate Packaging

Packaging has become excess and dangerous to the environment. Rapid prototyping is eliminating the need for packaging on a number of levels. When materials are sourced locally and long shipping transit times are eliminated, the need for excess packaging is no longer necessary. Traditional packaging often pollutes oceans and rivers and kills sealife, wildlife, as well as plantlife when it is littered along the sides of roads. Traditional packaging also pollutes playgrounds and other places where people gather with a reasonable expectation to a clean living environment. When people use rapid prototyping, it eliminates the packaging of parts to construct manufactured items, and often times, it eliminates packaging to the end user if the item is intended for local or personal use.

Focus on Sustainability

A significant movement is being made by rapid prototyping innovators to focus on responsible 3D printing through sustainability before the industry becomes too mainstream. The idea is to create an environmentally friendly and entirely sustainable process by using socially responsible business practices that will become the standard in the industry. Part of these practices includes using sustainable materials in constructing rapid prototyping objects. In addition to using locally sourced materials and recycled materials, industry leaders are focusing on using materials that are abundant, renewable, and those that do not pose a threat to the long-term viability of the environment. As part of the sustainable initiatives in rapid prototyping, engineers are creating designs that do not create waste nor that require excess materials. The end goal of most rapid prototype services is to create a near zero waste production process, thus resulting in one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly industries in the world today.

Reduce Waste 

In addition to eliminating the need for wasteful packaging often used in shipping and branding, by utilizing rapid prototyping, people are significantly reducing material waste in general. Rapid prototyping only produces the material needed to create the item being produced. In large manufacturing, the production process is often highly wasteful by discarding extra material not used for the construction of the item. 3D printing uses every part of every material used in the process. Today, it is even possible for people to place a used plastic bottle into a machine and create an item directly from that bottle. Soon, it is expected the same can be done with wood, metal, and glass. Waste is quickly becoming entirely eliminated by using 3D printing.

Rapid prototyping has the ability to reverse much of the damage that irresponsible manufacturing has done for over more than a century by using locally sourced materials, reducing shipping, eliminating packaging, focusing on sustainability, and reducing waste. The socially responsible business practices of the engineers and innovators in this industry are helping to create more affordable and practical manufacturing alternatives and a healthier world for us all.



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