3D printing lowers environmental impact, says study

Making things at home on a 3D printer releases less carbon dioxide than producing it in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse. The team conducted life-cycle impact analyses on three products: an orange juicer, a children’s building block and a waterspout. The cradle-to-gate analysis of energy use went from raw material extraction to one of two endpoints: entry into the U.S. for an item manufactured overseas or printing it a home on a 3D printer.
Making the items on a basic 3D printer took 41 to 64 percent less energy than making them in a factory and shipping them to the U.S., the study found.
Some of the savings come from using less raw material. “Children’s blocks are normally made of solid wood or plastic,” said Pearce; 3D printed blocks can be made partially or even completely hollow, requiring much less plastic.