With the world advancing at a fast pace, more goods, more services and more facilities need to be produced for the growing demand of the people. However, the question of using environment friendly technology remains a prominent one; and also whether the world is ready for the relatively costly ways to produce yet. 3D printing and rapid prototyping can however, make the impossible possible by cutting down costs and eliminating the need for conventional methods of production. The use of fossil fuels is degrading the environment, exhausting our resources faster than we would like.
In such a situation if experts declare rapid prototyping a more environmentally viable and less fuel consuming technology, it becomes evident that the world still does have some hope. Rapid prototyping is already taking on the world in its stride, and the said declaration by a top analyst from Nordea strengthens this very fact. It is thus believed that rapid prototyping can in fact, reduce oil consumption globally.
According to a Norwegian analyst of Sweden-based financial service company Nordea, Thina Margrethe Saltvedt, electric vehicles and rapid prototyping can in fact, help to decrease the consumption of oil to a much greater degree than what was predicted. These predictions were initially made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) when rapid prototyping was fairly new in the arena. This intergovernmental organization based in Paris behaves as an advisor for energy policy to member countries and other states.
IEA recently released a statement that the continouous increase of consumption of oil the entire world was due to the increased demand for shipping, aircrafts, trucks and petrochemical based products. However, according to the oil analyst and ‘technology optimist’ Saltvedt, the statement of IEA is not correct. She stressed that 3D printing, rapid prototyping and other such technologies have what it takes to reduce the consumption of oil and thus be a globally viable, climate friendly option.
Thina Margrete Saltvedt declared this at an IEA meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in an attempt to counter the points put forward by Fatih Birol- the executive director of IEA. The latter was presenting the primary conclusions from the World Energy Outlook 2016- the flagship publication of IEA which acts as a yearly round up of the global energy situation. According to Saltvedt, the prices of oil continued to be high throughout the millennium when there were only a few alternatives to choose from. Now that there are more energy efficient aircrafts, greener ships and the rise in the number of electric cars; the tables can turn in the favor of humanity. Electric cars are highly popular in Norway where there are strict regulations on environmental conservation. In an optimistic manner, Thina Margrethe Saltvedt presented her argument for rapid prototyping and 3D printing as well.
It is evident that the mass adoption of technologies such as electricity operated cars could play a key role in the reduction of global oil requirement. However, various sources tend to disagree on the present market situation. The IEA report estimates that there could potentially be 150 million electric cars, some of which produced with the help of rapid prototyping, by the year 2040. Saltvedt however, agrees with the Bloomberg, a news agency that estimated a higher number of such cars- around 450 million. When the technology started being used for public transport such as ferries and buses, the possibility seemed more real that the consumption of oil could actually reduce to an acceptable level.
Saltvedt also stresses the importance of another technology that could reduce fuel consumption- rapid prototyping or 3D printing. This Nordea analyst believes that rapid prototyping can in fact, reduce the consumption of oil through local production of goods. When local production increases, the need for fuel dependent import-export system will be reduced as well. When more businesses are able to fabricate necessary items and parts on location with rapid prototyping, there would be less shipping charges for parts carried in from other ends of the world. Hence, humanity can perhaps see a significant reduction in the consumption of energy across sea, air and land.
One of the ideal examples of vehicles that involve both rapid prototyping and electric technology is the Local Motors’ brainchild Strati. The car happens to be both 3D printed and electric. Environment friendly solutions like these are what the world looks forward to.
Some other fields where Saltvedt thinks there could be significant input from are solar and wind power. Both of these energy sources are becoming even more competitive to the point where subsidies are not necessary anymore. Saltvedt strongly believes that the oil consumption will show a rise in the following few years, but will then start falling by 2025.
It is evident as to what the business advantages of rapid prototyping are, which have been clarified in a number of occasions. Some of these benefits include increased possibilities of design innovation, low volume production affordability and simplicity of operation. These have encouraged many industries to incorporate rapid prototyping in their production methods. These benefits, added with the possibility of being fuel efficient can truly have a positive impact on the world environment situation.
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