3D printing really makes manufacturing enormously more environmentally friendly. There are a few reasons why.
The number one advantage of 3d printing over different processes is it does not have to overproduce. if you look at typical consumer products today as a toy for a particular movie coming out at the Christmas time, manufacturers will produce generally about 15 to 25 percent more than anyone will ever buy. This means that 15 to 25 will basically be landfilled at the end of the holiday season, which is a huge amount of waste but this isn't necessary.
Historically, this has been necessary because when injection molding, you get one run you get to make all of the parts, and then you're basically done for that year. You get all of your inventory made in like Q1 or Q2 and then you store that until the Christmas season when you sell as much of it as you possibly can. The biggest sin is to stop selling and be short of a product because then you missed out on that one-year opportunity. With this, you then have to wait until the next year for it to come around again. The issue here is that you have all of this waste because you have to overproduce because if the cost to produce a figurine is 50 cents, the loss of landfilling or scrapping or shredding all of those toys is less than if you were to be than the loss you would have if you didn't have those toys available to sell to somebody else. The potential gain is greater than the potential or almost definite loss of these consumer goods each year, 3D printing doesn't need that. With large-scale 3d printing farms, you're able to produce thousands of parts on-demand as needed. There's no longer a reason to produce tens of thousands or millions of a component at the beginning of the year, store them for a year, and then sell as many of them. You can simply make them as you sell them and it becomes less of a one-year exercise of getting your inventory and more of a month-to-month or even week-to-week exercise of getting your inventory. Right there with that fundamental supply advantage, the ability of 3D printing to produce on-demand at scale, you eliminate 15 to 25 percent of manufacturing waste, especially in consumer goods, toys, and that kind of thing.
The other input is that 3D printing is just the most efficient process imaginable. If you think about the raw inputs of manufacturing with the molding you have the mold and then you have electricity heat and plastic to make the part. It's pretty set there after you have the mold but you've got to make that mold. If you're machining, you have a block of something and then you pick away at it until you have the shape of the thing you want to carve away at it which means that you waste or have to recycle or post-process all of those shavings all the stuff that you took away. It's very efficient in that regard because you have to double process the material. With 3D printing, you have electricity and you have the plastic and that's it the final part comes out. Now admittedly 3D printing isn't perfect. All the time, there are support materials and other kinds of components to it that can require post-processing. But a well-designed part can come off a machine fully complete and ready to go with zero waste. Again since it's only coming in response to the demand for that item, there's never any wasted inventory. Just from that straightforward kind of high-level view, 3d printing is more efficient than traditional manufacturing methods by anywhere from 25 to as much as 50 percent. You only make what you need when you need it so there's basically zero waste and there are no extraneous processes that need extra touches and extra energy to produce and maintain.
Those are kind of the main reasons that 3D printing is just phenomenally more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly than other types of manufacturing processes.
Have a great day everybody!
This is kind of a very niche topic that is relevant only to printer farms and it's the fact that there is not a printer made for 3d printer farms.
A lot of people are going to argue with that statement, the reason for that is because there are lots of printer farms around. The Prusa printer farm itself is made up of Prusa printers producing those parts, but they're not made for that. there has not been a machine expressly and intentionally created and brought to market that was focused on the 3d printer farm industry. Creality made the belt machines which are still very low-scale high maintenance machines. Prusa has their machines which again are used in print farms because of their reliability but they're not the correct type of machine for that. There are a number of different options that have been tried out by Stratasys and others alike. But the print farm model has not been pursued and invested in or considered a market segment for many many years and currently still isn't. Even though there's been a few products kind of announced that are focused on print farms, they haven't come to market yet.
At Slant 3D, when we built our printer farm we expressly had to design and manufacture printers for our facility. This is because there was nothing out there optimized for print farms. There were no machines that had the automation capabilities, the ejection capabilities, or the reliability and ease of maintenance that was necessary to be used in a print farm. Everyone else who is building a print farm currently buys something off the shelf and puts up 100 of them or puts up 10 of them or whatever the number is and that's fine except for the fact that it doesn't work. The manufacturer is designing these machines for a consumer who might get bored in 24 months and needs a new machine or a consumer who needs to come back and buy another machine in 24 months so it will just break down because it's low cost. A print farm needs exceptionally easy maintenance of the machines so you cannot have the user-friendly features that make a machine easy for a general consumer to use but impossible to maintain because a chip that you don't want somebody to touch or beat on is going to be buried in the back but then professional users can't get at it. It will have certain reliability issues where it just burns out after a while because it doesn't have a premium component in that area because it's just a low-cost machine. There hasn't been a meshing of the needs of the printer farm industry segment with the needs and the demands of the printer manufacturers. printer manufacturers make a machine for a person, they don't make fleets of machines for a company. That's never been a market segment or a goal for them. This continues to be the case that there is still not a printer on the market that is reliably utilized for 3d printer farms.
Yes, you can say there are printers out there that are used that are best practices right now but that doesn't mean they're good. They weren't designed for print farms. People are using them for brick farms, they're duct taping it and that is not a solution. It's certainly not a good solution. 3d printer manufacturers need to start to consider this because as the printing scale grows, print farms will continue to expand and be a component of the industry for mass production of 3d printed parts. The companies working on print farms cannot continue to jerry-rig machines into their systems. Many of them will go the same direction that we did which is just to create a machine from scratch so that we had control of our product roadmap and we're able to engineer it specifically for our needs as a mass producer of 3d printed parts. That's the situation we'll see how the industry goes there's a huge amount of money to be made in selling individual 3d printers. The industry will continue to mature and the need for 3d printer farm printers will continue to grow so it's something to think about.
Let me know down in the comments of printer farms that you know about or good machines that you found for print farms in case somebody's trying to build one. Let us know what you think of the videos or other topics that you'd like to see.
Have a great day everybody and happy printing!