Technological progress has been on both ends of the environmental spectrum. On one hand the further use of technology can cause dregradation within the natural environment, while on the other hand, it can be it’s savior. As we progress into the 21st century, never before have we had so many possible environmental catastrophies building on the horizon. At the same time though, never before have we been on the brink of such progress that nearly every environmental problem could potentially be avoided, and solved.
3D printing is just one of the many advances in technology that will lead to a healthier environment around the world. Here are three major ways in which this technology will usher in a cleaner, purer, safer world around us:
#1 Wide Spread Recycling at Our Fingertips
In the Late 80’s and early 90’s we saw a major shift towards recycling waste. Curbside bins were handed out to residents in most areas around the nation, and people began to think twice before throwing out certain items. This was due to advances in technology allowing for recycling plants to flourish. Fast forward 20-30 years and we are at the starting line of another major recycling revolution. Plastics, as well as eventually metals and other materials can be ground up and turned into filament for 3D printers. Over the last year or so, there has been a movement underway to do this. Perpetual Plastic is one of these movements, as well as others like the Filabot, which received over 300% of it’s goal in funding on Kickstarter back in 2012. Basically anyone with the proper tools can throw a used plastic bottle into a machine, and after a few steps turn that into any of tens of millions of different items. If that’s not something to get excited about, nothing is. Scientists as well as do-it-yourselfers are also working with metals, wood materials, and glass to push forward similar initiatives.
#2 Reduction in Fossil Fuel Use From Shipping
Every day millions of barrels of oils are used shipping items across the world. Whether it’s a UPS truck, Fedex 747, freight train, or cargo ship, global trade is a huge business. Millions of people every day order off of interest sites like Amazon, and receive their products within 2 days time. That takes a lot of fuel. Where there is fuel, there is pollution. 3D printing is already helping to cut back on shipments in many industries. Thus far, it’s barely made a dent in the amount of fuel needed each day within the shipping industry, however, trends show it will make a significant dent within the coming decade. Today you can 3D print your child a toy, yourself a smartphone case, or your loved ones jewelry, instead of having to order those items online and paying to have them shipped, or jumping into your vehicle and running to the local Walmart. In the future, almost everything will be able to be printed out, cutting costs, saving time, and most importantly preserving the environment.
#3 Far Less Waste
Finally, 3D printers are cutting back on waste within the manufacturing industry. 3D printing is also known as “additive manufacturing.” That’s because it does just that, slowly adds material to an item until it is complete. Most other manufacturing methods are subtractive. For instance, when you build a chair out of wood, you don’t use ever single shred of lumber in that chair. You have scraps as well as saw dust left over. Same thing for
just about anything that is manufactured these days. You almost always have waste material, which nine times out of ten, winds up in a landfill, or somewhere even worse. 3D printers will save money for manufacturers, but most importantly cut back substantially on waste. Many companies include General Electric, Apple, and Ford are already using, or have plans to use 3D printing within their manufacturing facilities.
Most people are afraid of technology, in that they feel it will lead to the worlds demise. In my opinion technology will solve some of the most unsolvable problems we face today. Embrace it to the fullest!
Let’s hear your opinions: http://3dprintboard.com/showthread.php?1514-3-Ways-3D-Printing-is-Going-to-Help-save-The-Environment
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