The advance of 3D printing technology has been unstoppable for some years now and it has undoubtedly brought about a new industrial revolution.
If we take into account the number of things that can already be done with a 3D printer, it seems that this technology has no limits. There is even talk that the homes of future human settlements on Mars will be built in situ with the help of large 3D printers.
From small home appliances, clothing and accessories, and furniture; to more complex concepts such as its use in construction, gastronomy – some chefs have already started printing food -, or even the creation of human prostheses for transplant. 3D printing looks like the future happening before our eyes.
However, one of the most interesting issues raised by this technology is its sustainability potential. The 3D printing process, known as «additive process» works with filaments that generate layers on layers, in order to create a three-dimensional version of the product that has previously been designer on the computer.
As aforementioned, this process represents a step towards sustainability in comparison to conventional manufacturing, since it is possible to print from ecodesigned and recyclable raw materials (filaments), or polymers made from organic and biodegradable materials, such as corn-based PLA, which emits no harmful gases.
This means, for example, a considerable saving in non-renewable raw materials and the reduction of other pollutants among other advantages. In addition, the creation of new sustainable printing materials continues to grow, such is the case of newly developed, ecologically friendly materials such as seaweed filaments, beer waste filaments or biodegradable oyster shell dust filaments.
In addition, it is possible to manufacture the products without having to create molds, and even as in the case of plastics, with 50% less raw material than with other traditional injection processes.
But not everything is positive, and there are still some areas in which this technology needs yet to be improved.
This is the case of 3D printers that use heat or an energy source (such as laser or UV light) to melt the plastic, resulting in a electrical energy consumption 100 times higher – and the resulting emissions assuming that the energy consumed is not renewable – than producing an object of the same weight through traditional manufacturing with the resulting emissions that this involves.
Like any other technology with such a development track record and growth potential there are still questions in the air, but there is no doubt they will eventually be answered.
A relevant argument for the use of this technology, especially on household level, is the possibility that increasingly affordable 3D printers offer to print parts or pieces that cannot be purchased separately or are no longer on production. This enables the user to extend and even potentially improve the lifecycle of a product, instead of buying a new one, hence reducing obsolescence and greatly helping to protect the environment.
We are therefore at the forefront of production technology, facing not the future, but a present reality.
Tumaker and Ekohunters
At Ekohunters we aim to support state-of-the-art technology, even more so when it helps make progress towards a potentially sustainable future where we can manufacture and consume responsibly.
For this reason, we have joined forces with TUMAKER, a Basque company that leads the sales of large format 3D printers in Spain.
This partnership aims to popularize the 4.0 industry and bring it into your home. A partnership with its own name – VOLADD – a project for the society of the future, for the society of change where manufacturing becomes a domestic process, from your own home, sustainable, manufacturing with eco-designed (biodegradable) materials and avoiding packaging and transport.
In short, saving both in cost and emissions, emphasizing what really matters: the sustainability of the system.
We are at the dawn of a domestic revolution. Like the typewriter, the computer, the internet, social networks and many other technological advances, 3D printing is about to conquer us.
And on this road, where, as on so many others, Ekohunters emphasizes ecodesign, ecology and sustainability, we aim to inspire this change with the help of TUMAKER and VOLADD as the first step of the many that we will take.