3D Printing’s Impact on Sustainability

| The Essentium Team

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3D Printing and Sustainability | Essentium

No matter how you slice it, when you make something using traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, you create waste through cutting, grinding, drilling or otherwise machining away sections from a solid block of raw material to create a desired form — material that you paid for.

Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, builds three-dimensional objects “from the ground up” using computer-aided design (CAD) software applications to precisely deposit melted filament layer upon layer until a piece is complete. There is minimal waste of raw material, with usually just a little post-printing sanding and cleaning required to ready a part for use.

Imagine creating multiple iterations of prototypes without creating a mountain of sawdust. Or producing quantities of jigs, fixtures and end-use parts without sending chunks of wood, scrap metal and excess plastic fragments to the landfill — all while saving money as you make maximum use of raw materials.

3D printing has long been recognized as a green manufacturing process, but its impact on sustainability goes well beyond the reduction of physical waste during the actual manufacturing process. Consider these additional environmental advantages:

  • Less energy consumption and lower emissions during manufacturing. It takes a lot less electricity to run a 3D printer and computer than it does to run CNC machines. That means fewer smokestacks spewing pollution and a reduced carbon footprint for the factory.
  • On-demand manufacturing. Reduce the expense of warehousing finished goods that may never be sold/used, thereby avoiding sending surplus product to landfills. Instead, simply inventory spools of polymer filaments and produce only the quantities needed, when needed.
  • Point-of-need manufacturing. Rather than producing an item at a distant facility and shipping it to the customer, a digital file can be emailed to a local factory, or directly to the customer for printing on-site. This reduces transportation activities and expenses while contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gasses through lower fossil fuel use.

Today, many businesses concerned with climate change are seeking manufacturing processes and partners that share their environmental position and the green attitudes of their customers. Companies love to say things like, “made with minimal environment impact” about their products. In fact, there is a growing demand for 3D printing filaments made from eco-friendly and recyclable compounds such as biodegradable PLA (made from cornstarch). After the part or product has finished its useful life, it can be recycled back into raw filament, or if discarded, it will decompose without releasing toxic byproducts into the environment. Additive manufacturing is a great example of doing more with less.

Essentium offers the 3D printing hardware and materials to help your company promote sustainability. Contact us to learn more about how the Essentium HSE 180•S 3D Printing Platform with our exclusive High Speed Extrusion technology delivers the speed, strength and scale to take maximum advantage of the eco-friendly aspects of additive manufacturing.


Essentium, Inc. provides industrial 3D printing solutions that are disrupting traditional manufacturing processes by bringing product strength and production speed together, at scale, with an open ecosystem and material set. Essentium manufactures and delivers innovative industrial 3D printers and materials enabling the world’s top manufacturers to bridge the gap between 3D printing and machining to embrace the future of additive manufacturing.

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