On Earth Day 2021, We Must Ask: Can 3D Printing Alter the Course of Climate Change?


3D printing is truly a manufacturing technique of the future. Being additive in nature i.e. forming products by adding successive layers rather than cutting away from a block of material, it allows for high-precision production. 3D printing creates as much as you need, overall requiring 90% less material than traditional manufacturing where the product forms by cutting away from a block of material. This encourages innovative and biodegradable materials and uses 50% less energy than traditional methods.

It is a process that connects the industrial to the technical age by combining “the solidity, durability and strength” of traditional manufacture with the “nimbleness, flexibility and adaptability” that digitalisation brings.


Source: bitfab 


This blog post will discuss three areas in which 3D printing can bring hugely positive changes to the way we currently produce “anything” – as Obama once said of the limitlessness of 3D printing possibilities – creating ultimately faster, cheaper and higher quality products, but with 50% less harm done to the environment.


Spare Parts

3D printing provides huge potential for spare parts of personal and commercial products to be made open source. Earlier last month, EU legislation gave consumers of appliances such as TV’s, microwaves and phones the ‘right to repair’. This legally requires manufacturers to make spare parts available for ten years after purchase. The 3D printing industry is perfectly placed to facilitate this development, where users can simply download the pattern and 3D print it at home. This is a major environmental win because it encourages a culture of repair and re-use rather than buying new, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturing, storing and shipping new parts.  

After the 2018 floods in Japan, car manufacturers around the world had to stop production for a few weeks because they were waiting for parts. Now, 3D printing has filled that place, proving greater adaptability post climate disasters.

Source: Spare Parts 3D 


Food Products

Greenhouse gases from the meat industry are colossal. 3D printers are now able to print edible and realistic meat taking tissue from an animal. Producing beef, for example, this way results in a 96% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to rearing animals, and uses 45% of the energy, 1% of the land and 4% of the water associated with conventional beef production. 

Research at Cornell University has found a way to print a greater range of foods from cheese and hummus to scallops, turkey and celery using liquid gels. This would reduce the need for the production chain in food, such as fertilisers and packaging, as well as reduce food waste by a large degree. 

The process of 3D printing is still expensive and limited, but with enhanced support and economies of scale, it could solve a host of environmental problems related to how we produce, transport and dispose of food. 

Source: 3DNatives 



A Dutch start up, Reflow, found a way to convert the trash generated by Tanzania's largest city into filament for 3D printing. The process begins with prototyping their own solar run machine and can be scaled or minimised for mobility for any part of the world.

This is on one hand responding to the magnitude of plastic refuse creation and keeping it from landfill, but re-using it in ways that are efficient and functional, thereby encouraging a circular economy.

An added benefit is seen in 20 times higher incomes of trash collectors, incentivising many people to collect, sort and hand in trash that otherwise would have been left to go to landfill! 

Source: Duggal 3D Prints

On Earth Day today, we must be committed to finding new and wholly different ways of production in order to reduce the impact of our industries and lives on the planet. 3D printing is one such process that scores very highly in solving a whole range of issues! If you would like to have something 3D printed, you can find out more about our 3D Printing Services.