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How can 3D printing help fight climate change?

How can 3D printing help fight climate change?

Twenty-five years ago, 1,700 scientists issued a “warning to humanity.” In their notice, the world’s best scientific minds warned that we were doing irreversible damage to the planet, which would ultimately result in mass human misery and planetary destruction. 

On the 25th anniversary of the original notice, 15,000 scientists have published a “second notice”. In it, they highlight our current failures to address past warnings, and insist we tackle major environmental issues that threaten human well being and survival. The rise of serious natural disasters, including destructive hurricanes, would indicate their predictions are already coming to pass.

Fortunately, all is not lost. There are numerous ways we can help slow down the destruction of the planet and prevent natural catastrophes from occurring with such intensity and frequency. Some scientists also note that climate change can actually be reversed, by addressing the key causes.

While our enthusiastic use of technology has been a big cause of climate change, tech can also be used to help us reduce our toxic impact on the planet. How can 3D printing help us heed the latest warning from the world’s scientists? We explore the tech’s greener attributes below.

Greener energy sources

3D printing allows for greater precision in manufacturing. This allows us to produce earth-friendly sources of energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels, with greater efficiency at a lower cost.

Embracing manufacturing methods that allow for the fast and inexpensive production of green energy sources is one of the best ways to help reduce our impact on the environment.

This precision also extends to reforming items currently used into greener versions of their shadow selves. The Bulletin highlights how 3D printing has been used for greener airplane:

“3D printing can...increase efficiency in both the manufacturing process and the final product. Airbus, for example, was able to print a one-part fuel tank for a jet airplane, which normally would have required welding together 10 metal parts. The airline industry is using 3D printing to make aircraft parts lighter and more resilient. This has allowed Boeing, for example, to reduce the weight of some of its aircraft by as much as 20 percent. Since a lighter airplane means less fuel is needed to propel it, this has reduced fuel costs by as much as 50 percent.”

Greener manufacturing

3D printers produce less fumes during the manufacturing process, as well as producing less waste. They also require fewer raw materials and parts in order to produce items. All of these aspects combine to help make 3D printing a far greener manufacturing method.

As the use of 3D printing becomes more widespread, people will have easier and faster access to items they need. 3D printing allows for items to be printed from files, reducing the need for shipping. This means less emissions produced by the transportation of consumer goods.

As the technology becomes more readily accessible and less expensive, people may soon be able to print items in their own homes. Food, furniture, clothes and makeup products are just some of the items currently being printed. These everyday items could soon be printed by a home desktop 3D printer.

A safer, more habitable world through tech

There are a number of ways that we can use 3D printing to help slow climate change. Hopefully, this second warning from scientists will encourage us to fully utilise this green technology and make better use of the resources we have available.

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