Are 3d printers environmentally friendly

Is 3D Printing Eco-Friendly - My 3D Concepts

We believe in being eco-friendly, protecting the environment and creating while saving our natural resources. We believe that 3D technology is the next logical step in the manufacturing process, and that as part of our future it will help achieve the goal of producing and creating without destroying.

Being Eco-friendly is a way of life not a trend or buzz word. It exemplifies a philosophy and an action. Guiding the way we live, work and produce the items we need in a manner which is safe for our environment and in a way to conserve and protect the inhabitants and resources of our planet. Embracing eco-friendly initiatives creates an atmosphere of excitement, thrill and even euphoria especially as our society becomes more responsible and respectful towards its environment.

The bad news.

The reality today does not allow the 3D printing technology to be fully Eco-friendly. Different researchers reveal that this technology uses large amounts of energy, larger than the amount used by milling and drilling machines. A research (Atkins Project) done at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom revealed that to produce the same object of the same weight, some 3D printing processes require 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding machine.
Another setback is the heavy reliance on plastic materials for the printing process. Plastic as a whole is not considered an Eco-friendly material. Studies show that industrial grade 3D printers have a substantial plastic byproduct left behind that in most cases is not suitable for reuse.

Furthermore a study led by Brent Stephens reveals that the secondhand printing fumes emitted when the plastic material is heated to high temperatures, hold toxic byproducts. Although the emissions levels were found somewhat normal – close to those of cooking indoors (Learn more about this at, the research demonstrates the need for further investigation.

The good news!

Observing the 3D printing Eco-friendly status in comparison to all the other manufacturing process, especially mass production, demonstrates the facts that the technology has far less of an impact on our environment in comparison to traditional manufacturing.

Moreover When we consider the entire product life cycle; extracting raw materials, assembly, refining, manufacturing, assembly, use, maintenance and end of the products life – 3D printers demonstrate considerable advantage over traditional machines in terms carbon footprint. In manufacturing, 3D printers generate less waste by using a little more than the amount of material necessary for the product eliminating completely the process of drilling, cutting, and milling. Another advantage of 3d printers is gained by reducing the refining and assembly stage and removing the storing necessity of the products before and during their sale which in terms of traditional manufacturing contributes to the overuse of resources.

Nevertheless as of today all manufacturing in its initial stage (extracting raw materials) and the disposal stage, involve heavy environment pollution. Many damaging effects are caused by the methods used to extract the raw materials are extracted and a large amount of energy is consumed in merely obtaining them raw materials.

According to many researchers, progressively more dangerous extraction methods are used to retrieve scarce oil resources for the production of plastic material so widely used today. Transportation, refining and manufacturing of products require additional energy, raw material waste and dumping toxic waste from the processes themselves into the air, earth and water. One the most evident and harmful consequence occurs at the completion of the life cycle when the products are discarded.

3D printing is striving to respond and correct all those problems inherent in a products life cycle. As mentioned previously, the technology is all about its unlimited potential, The potential in this technology allows us to say that 3D printing will continue developing and improving its continuous development and improvement in every aspect, especially in terms of being 3D printing Eco-friendly.

On-the-spot and on-demand 3D-printed manufacturing reduces overall energy waste and has smaller carbon footprint. The environmental costs of assembling, transporting, logistics, maintaining, storing are completely or nearly eliminated. The whole idea behind 3D printing is to produce affordable products in an efficient and effective manner so they are durable, lighter (especially advantageous when shipping) and have close to zero waste. The focus is on high quality, efficiency and low volume manufacturing. Computer generated designs will help reduce costs and improve energy and resource usage, by aiding in the design and early production stages of a new product, and by eliminating the need to store actual products. In addition, the products form, function, performance and durability will be greatly enhanced.

Another advantage is that the manufacturing would return to the hands of the local producers. It will reduce the shipping, air cargo volumes and the need for storage facilities and allow an emphasis on customization and high quality.

What about the heavy reliance of plastic for production and the related issues?
It is true that the heating and melting of plastic during the production stage emits fumes (Volatile Organic Carbon) and ultra fine particles harmful to the health. However the people behind the technology prove once again their incessant strive towards 3D printing Eco-friendly manufacturing by working on limiting and eliminating the risks through various filtration and ventilation solution incorporated in the machines themselves.
One such improvement is the use of corn-based biodegradable plastic (PLA) that not only has considerably less toxic emission risks but also proves a promising 3D printing Eco-friendly future in terms of the disposal stage of a product life cycle.

Furthermore 3D printers do rely on plastic, but only heavily for the desktop grade ones. The industrial grade 3D printers have the unlimited possibilities of variety of materials ranging from metal, ceramic to wood-like and glass-like materials. The prove for continuing aim for improvement in terms of materials comes from the fact that nowadays scientist are in the mist of printing human organs using cell-containing bio ink. The possibilities are endless.

Passion Creates Results

We are passionate about creating and helping you produce new, improved and greener products through 3D technology which emphasizes on the use of recycled materials and focuses on reducing, managing and eliminating waste.

We are excited about the potential for this technology to focus on materials for the printing process that would be Eco-friendly utilizing bio-degradable materials, bio-plastics, powders, resins, acrylates, wax and more. The end goal is to eliminate toxic materials and the negative effect on the environment.

According to various reports form the global management consulting firm of McKinsey, there are substantial trends of improvements in the 3D printing performance. In fact there is a “90% drop in the price of some low-end 3D printers and materials for home users compared to four years ago,” according to a recent article by Nilima Choudhury. See more at

Overall the potential and eco-friendly results of 3D printing technology are promising. This technology is believed to be revolution in manufacturing which is expected to get bigger, better and greener.

Is 3D Printing Eco-Friendly?

Two things are on the rise: climate change and 3D printers in the home. Because of this, you may be wondering, is 3D printing eco-friendly?

With lots of plastic involved and printers that run for days at a time, it's unlikely that 3D printing is good for the environment.

However, you might be surprised at how 3D printing compares to old manufacturing methods and be happy to hear that there are eco-friendlier options available to you.

So, what is the environmental impact of 3D printing, and can it ever be eco-friendly?

First Off: What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that builds an object layer by layer until the finished product is complete.

This is different from subtractive manufacturing which starts with, say, a block of wood and whittles it down to its final product, perhaps a wooden spoon.

One of the benefits of 3D printing as an additive process is that there is less waste. Instead of starting with a block of material, you begin from scratch, using only the necessary amount to make the object.

This is what makes 3D printing a smart choice for producing objects and a seemingly eco-friendlier option.

Should You Be 3D Printing?

All this talk of manufacturing sounds like we are mass-producing an object, right?

However, this technology is used by hobby designers and makers who love to build DIY objects from their homes.

With 3D printing, you can print souvenirs from your favorite TV show or print a computer case, making it an incredibly exciting technology. If this sounds useful or just a whole lot of fun to you, you can get started with this beginner-friendly guide to 3D printing.

But keep in mind, you are now bringing plastic objects into the world that didn't exist before, and with that power comes responsibility.

The first step is to begin by getting to know your materials.

Let's Get Filled In on Filament Types

There are several different types of 3D printers and materials. To narrow the focus, we're going to talk about one of the most popular choices: fused deposition modeling, or more commonly referred to as FDM.

The bad news is that 3D printing uses plastic filament material to print objects, and the two main types being used are ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (polylactic acid).

Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce/Wikimedia

The good news is that they are not created the same, and a quick comparison of their traits will highlight which one has less of an impact on the environment.


- Petroleum derivate product (oil-based plastic)

- High-temperature resistance

- Strong and durable

- Releases toxic fumes

- Does not degrade

- Non-recyclable


- Corn-based thermoplastic

- Low-Temperature Resistance

- Doesn't release fumes

- Unsuitable for durable parts

- Biodegradable over time

- Recyclable

You might have noticed that one of the two plastics is recyclable, and luckily for us, it's the most widely used filament for 3D printing: PLA.

Filament Choice Matters

Because PLA is made from a renewable source that commonly comes from corn, it has the eco-friendly trait of being recyclable and biodegradable.

That can't be said of the oil-based thermoplastic ABS, which cannot be recycled and isn't degradable.

This might make you wonder why anyone would choose ABS filament in the first place. Well, that comes down to its properties of strength and durability, which, when compared with PLA, will be far more enduring over the entire life of the object.

Think LEGO: you probably still have a box of those tiny plastic bricks somewhere, still in perfectly usable condition. That's because it's made from ABS plastic and is strong enough to last a very long time.

So, out of the two options, PLA has eco-friendlier properties, but plastics aside, there's more to consider.

What About Power Consumption?

3D printing takes time; we're talking about more than several hours and up to several days to print one object.

For example, this little sheep figurine will take just over 2 hours to print, while this moon lamp clocks in at a minimum of 3 days, during which your printer will be running the entire time. Sounds like a lot of power, doesn't it?

Despite the prolonged printing times, you'll be happy to know that the cost of running a 3D printer won't leave you with an extremely high electric bill.

It largely depends on your printer's wattage and the temperature that your design requires. For example, the Flashforge Creator Procan costs around three cents per hour to run, while the Monoprice Mini Delta can cost as little as one cent per hour to run.

This all seems reasonable but put in the context of other manufacturing processes like inkjet or machine milling, 3D printers actually consume more power. As we mentioned earlier, the flip side is that 3D printing doesn't waste nearly as much raw material.

Either way, while it may not cost you a lot of money to run a 3D printer, being aware of energy consumption and conserving electricity is overall better for our environment.

Staying Current On Your Energy Use

Most of the energy used in 3D printing comes from heating the nozzle that melts the plastic, and additionally from warming up the heated printing bed if you have one.

As we saw earlier, PLA filament melts at a lower point than ABS, thus requiring less power to print. However, if you use ABS filament for your object, you will also require a heating bed to prevent warping, adding additional heating requirements.

Choosing PLA filament is certainly the low-energy option. Still, to get an idea of how much power your prints are consuming, you should use an energy monitoring device for a detailed report.

Power Differences

Paying attention to how many watts your 3D printer uses will also give you an idea of how much energy your 3D printer uses versus other options.

To understand how 3D printers differ in power we can compare the two printers mentioned earlier. The affordable Monoprince Mini Delta uses about 60W during the printing process, while the larger and more expensive Flashforge Creator Pro uses 250W.

This demonstrates a huge difference between 3D printers available to you when considering which model might be more eco-friendly.

Another consideration is buying a 3D printer with an integrated closure which will help to prevent the loss of heat and lower your energy consumption further.

If you're still concerned about how much power your 3D printer will draw, however, it's worth keeping in mind that when put into the context of other electronic devices, it's still pretty energy efficient.

While the energy consumption of the two 3D printers we compared earlier ranges from 0.07 kWh to 0.24 kWh, a typical desktop computer will use about 1.05 kWh, well over four times that amount.

Object Life

Figuring out the impact of 3D printing is complex and depends on more than one factor, but one simple thing to keep in mind is, "How long will my object last?"

Creating items that are purposeful and will likely be kept for years to come will help to keep plastic from ending up in the ground unnecessarily. It's something that's easy to forget when there are thousands of cool and aesthetic designs out there to print.

When thinking about your next 3D printed object, start by asking yourself whether this is an item that you will keep for a long time, or alternatively, if it can be recycled, repurposed, or given away if you no longer want it.

So, Is 3D Printing Eco-Friendly?

Overall, the use of plastics, the power consumption of printers, and the potential for an object to have a short product life mean that ultimately, 3D printing is not entirely eco-friendly—but it's definitely headed in the right direction.

Choosing a renewable material like PLA is a better option for recycling, while advances in 3D printing technology will over time produce machines that consume less power. The process of additive manufacturing also wastes far less material than previous manufacturing methods did making it a worthwhile innovation to pursue.

With more environmentally conscious designers and makers, we're starting to see 3D printing head in a positive direction.

Eco-friendly use of 3D printers in the home and industry

Vegetarianism, electric cars, green energy. Increasingly, people are beginning to think about the destructive impact of humanity and production on nature.

Global warming (this is especially noticeable in the last decade), pollution of the world's oceans, garbage dumps, the extinction of some animal species or even entire ecosystems. If you do not start to fight this today, then in a hundred years, hardly anything will remain of the former natural greatness.

3D printing, due to its versatility, helps many scientists and enthusiasts in various fields in solving large and global problems, for the conservation and ecosystems of our still green planet.

Sustainable production

First of all, 3D printers help to make production more environmentally friendly. Using 3D printing instead of traditional manufacturing methods helps reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Air Emission Reduction

Smoke, garbage, gases, toxic fumes are frequent "companions" of traditional production methods. However, they can be significantly reduced or completely eliminated if a 3D printer is working in the workplace or at home.

Mass production vs. 3D printing

At first glance, it seems that mass production is less harmful to nature than piece-by-piece production on a 3D printer. But it turned out that this is not entirely true. Joshua Pierce and colleagues traced the life cycle of three household items - an orange juicer, parts from a children's designer and a drainpipe segment.

Joshua Pierce, Michigan Technological University Scientist USA

It turned out that the production of, at first glance, such ordinary household items consumes a huge amount of resources - the extraction of raw materials and their processing, production, storage and delivery to the final consumer. In mass production, stamping or casting is usually used, after which plastic scraps are sure to remain.

3D printing can significantly reduce the production chain, and consequently, energy costs (by about 40-60%). After all, 3D printing (provided that the client has his own printer) does not require delivery - it is enough to send a digital 3D model. Printing can be more accurate and leave less plastic waste behind. A 3D printer can even produce hollow or lattice parts that are technically impossible to mass-produce by injection molding or moulding.

Reduced fuel consumption

In the world, more and more manufacturers of cars and motorcycles are beginning to develop the direction of electric motors. There are new and more affordable electric vehicles, the infrastructure for the maintenance of electrical engineering is developing. Many countries set themselves the goal of reducing the use of fossil fuels as much as possible in the near future.

Strati 3D printed electric car

But unfortunately, abandoning fossil fuels in the next few decades is a utopia. But 3D printing is already helping to at least reduce the amount of fuel consumed. This is achieved due to the maximum lightening of the weight of both the machine itself and the mechanical components of the internal combustion engine (internal combustion engine).

Engine hood hinge, 3D printed on the left and sheet metal on the right

Sustainable production

3D printing helps not only to reduce industrial emissions into the atmosphere, but also helps to find and implement new ideas. After all, each owner of a 3D printer can himself model and manufacture a device or object that, in his opinion, will help to resist climate change.

Eco glasses

Disposable plastic cups are a headache for environmentalists around the world. According to statistics, the average person uses a plastic cup for 15 minutes, and it will take from 400 to 450 years to decompose in the garbage.

Plastic, due to its properties, is difficult to replace, especially in the food industry, but some enthusiasts are trying to do it. Jun Aizaki thinks he can solve this problem with pumpkins.

HyO-Cups or natural cups

Even prehistoric people adapted to use bottle gourds as reservoirs for water. Thanks to the 3D printed shapes, you can give almost any shape to a growing pumpkin.

gourd in the form of a jug

Animal rescue

3D printers are actively helping our smaller brothers. In addition to medical uses such as prosthetics, 3D printing helps preserve and restore entire ecosystems.

Animal prostheses

The biggest challenge in animal prosthetics is the creation of an often miniaturized but lightweight and precise prosthesis. Manually or by other methods, this is sometimes impossible. In this case, the only way out is 3D printing.

Curano Cat

Curano the cat lived a full life for 9 years, delighting his owners, until he got cancer. Curano's owners did everything possible to save their pet and although the cancer receded, Curano's back left leg was badly damaged. Amputation of the leg could create new problems and it was decided to try to replace the patella with an implant.

The miniature implant was 3D printed from a cobalt-chromium alloy using DMLS (Direct Laser Sintering) technology. It was impossible to manufacture by any other means, because the implant must not only be miniature and durable, but also completely repeat the complex relief for high-quality integration into the bone.

Holly horse

Holly is a ten year old mare who suffered from laminitis.

Laminitis is a disease of artiodactyls resulting from poor circulation of the hoof plates. Due to laminitis, Holly experienced severe pain in her legs, not only when walking, but also when standing.

Veterinarian Luke Wells-Smith heard of successful attempts to make custom titanium horseshoes for racing horses.

3D printed titanium horseshoes

The guys from the Australian National Science Center were imbued with Holly's misfortune and decided to help. In collaboration with a equine orthopedist, special horseshoes were created for Holly. They made it possible to lighten the hoof and more evenly distribute the load on the legs.

Holly's hoof scan

The new shoes helped Holly start not only walking without pain, but also running.

Akut sea turtle

The collision with the propeller of the boat was unfortunate for the Akut-3 sea turtle. Most of the upper and lower jaws were missing. This meant almost guaranteed slow death for the tortoise, but she was lucky.

The Tortoise Research and Rehabilitation Research and Rehabilitation Center, where the tortoise fell, turned to Turkish company Btech, which specializes in medical 3D printing. Btech was able to scan and fabricate the missing part of the Akut jaw from titanium.

3D model of the prosthesis for Akut on the left and the finished prosthesis on the right

The surgeons succeeded in implanting the turtle's titanium jaw, and after a successful rehabilitation, it can be released into the wild.

Turtle with prosthesis

Cleopatra tortoise

Nicola Novelli picked up and left a small land tortoise. But due to malnutrition, the shell of the turtle, Nicola called her Cleopatra, was deformed (had the shape of a pyramid) and thinned. If the shell had cracked, then Cleopatra could have died from an infection.

Cleopatra's deformed, pyramidal shell

Nicola approached Colorado Tech University with a request to make a prosthesis for Cleopatra. Specialists from the university and a 3D printing company in Denver scanned and made a shell overlay from polylactide, a biodegradable, biocompatible polymer. Due to the complex relief of the shell, the model had to be printed in parts.

Cleopatra with escutcheon

Since Cleopatra is still a teenager and will continue to grow with age, the “prosthesis” will have to be changed periodically.

Hermit crab houses

In the wild, it's bad to be small and weak. But hermit crabs were able to adapt and use empty shells of gastropod mollusks as a reliable shelter.

Hermit crabs

Due to the pollution of the beaches, many hermit crabs, in search of a new "house", fell into deadly traps from plastic bags, bottles, canisters and died. And natural shelters are becoming less and less. Hermit crabs have to use plastic garbage, which is not at all suitable for this.

Hermit crabs use rubbish as a home

Some enthusiasts are trying to help the unfortunate crustaceans and are trying to make them a worthy replacement house.

For example, MakerBot employees created the project "Shelter", where they offer anyone who wants to design a 3D model of a shelter for a hermit crab. The best works will be 3D printed and tested by crayfish.

From concept to implementation of 3D printed crayfish houses

But the Japanese artist Aki Yamomata, inspired by the idea of ​​a peaceful exchange of land between countries, implemented a project of printed transparent houses for hermit crabs in the form of small towns.

Cancer in a new home made with photopolymer printer

To make sure the new inhabitants liked the houses, they were based on tomographic images of shells, finalized in a 3D editor. Finished models are made of transparent resin on a photopolymer printer.

Conservation and support of ecosystems

In addition to prosthetics, 3D printing helps, although not to avoid some environmental disasters, but at least to slow them down. And this can give scientists more time to figure out the reasons and reach out to people.

Great Barrier Reef

It is the largest and oldest coral reef in the world. It is so huge that it can be seen from space (the area of ​​the Great Barrier Reef is about 344,400 square kilometers). In addition, corals are home to many species of fish and other marine life.

Great Barrier Reef from space

But despite its gigantic size, it is endangered. Due to rising water temperatures, pollution of the world's oceans and climate change, the endosymbiotic algae that give corals their bright color are slowly dying out.

Scientists from the University of Sydney are using 3D scanning and 3D printing to save the Great Barrier Reef. Using 3D scanning, a detailed map of the reef was built. With it, you can track and predict the most vulnerable places.

Using a 3D printer, scientists are making a variety of structures that can support the Great Barrier Reef. For example, sections are printed that serve as a home for algae-eating fish that kill corals. Previously, special blocks or prepared, sunken ships were used for this purpose, but 3D printing makes it possible to imitate the natural structure of the reef much more accurately.

Sandcrete mix artificial reef

Restoring dead ecosystems

Scientists plan to use this technology not only to maintain existing ecosystems, but also to restore those that have disappeared. After all, to date, about a third of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed.

Thanks to 3D printing, there is a chance to at least slightly improve the situation. Using the new Modular Artificial Reef Structures (MARS for short) technology, scientists are trying to introduce 3D printed structures that can become a home for reefs.

Artificial “reef” on the left - recently installed, on the right - after some time

The advantage of such block structures is the ease of installation. Indeed, for their immersion and installation, cranes or other equipment are not required. Several divers can deliver them to the bottom in separate blocks. Each block has hollow sections that are filled with rebar and special concrete for durability.

Modular system installed

One of the largest 3D printed "coral reefs" has already been placed in the Maldives.

Waste reduction

In addition to restoring ecosystems, it is necessary to reduce household waste emissions. And here 3D printing becomes a valuable assistant.

Cora Ball

Cora Ball is a development of the Rozalia Project. The Cora Ball is a small plastic ball that picks up the microfibers that spill from our clothes during the wash. This way, dirt and fibers that may have entered waterways and oceans will remain in the bin. After all, these microparticles can be eaten by fish and other animals.

Prototype Cora Ball

Although mass production was planned to be done by molding, the first batches and prototypes of Cora Ball were made on a 3D printer.

The second life of broken things

Any mechanism wears out and fails over time. Often, to restore the working capacity of the mechanism, it is enough to make a small plastic part. So thanks to 3D printing, many things do not end up in a landfill, further polluting our planet, but get a second life.

RU machine

Radio-controlled cars have long become not only children's toys. Many adults do not mind remembering their childhood and racing on an impromptu track.

RU machine

The weak point of all RC machines is the plastic suspension. For expensive replica models, you can almost always find spare parts, but for rare or Chinese models, they are not.

Instead of throwing away an almost working toy, you can make a broken element on a 3D printer. When modeling, you can even increase the strength of the part by adding stiffeners in weak places.

Rear hub of 1/18 scale car

Some enthusiasts 3D print the entire chassis. This makes it easy to replace broken elements and quickly refine and correct design flaws.

3D printed RC car chassis

The second life of the meat grinder

Even such seemingly eternal things as a metal meat grinder can break. The most annoying thing is that a part that does not have a strong load has broken.

Clamping nut for a meat grinder, made on a 3D printer

A variety of materials allows you to print on a 3D printer a replacement for almost any plastic part. It can be a gear for a blender, a plastic handle for a washing machine and much more.

In some situations, when the model is rare and old, there are no even original used spare parts. 3D printing allows you to give your favorite home appliance many more years of life, instead of rotting in a landfill.

Vehicle seal

Sometimes a small, cheap piece breaks in an important node. But the manufacturer sells the necessary spare part only in the collection. Because of this, you have to not only overpay for the necessary part, but also throw away the unnecessary, albeit almost working, mechanism.

Washer nozzle for Toyota Avensis - 3D printed on the left, original on the right

A 3D printer becomes a “lifesaver” if you need to make a spare part that is already difficult or impossible to get. For example, this part is no longer produced, but the BU option could not be found, or delivery will cost more than the part itself.

Green Energy

The transition to green energy is an important step in reducing emissions of greenhouse (and not only) gases into the atmosphere.

Wind energy

Wind energy is a renewable and “clean” energy source. Despite some disadvantages (variability of wind power and therefore uneven power generation), it is promising for some countries. For example, in Denmark, in 2019, windmills generated 48% of the electricity consumed.

There are several options for wind turbines - with a vertical and horizontal axis of rotation.

Main types of wind turbines

Vertical-axial wind turbines have a lower efficiency compared to horizontal-axial ones, but their use requires that the wind speed be more than 6 m/s. In Russia, the average annual wind speed does not exceed 5 m/s, so wind turbines with a vertical axis are more often used.

Home wind generator

In Russia, "clean" energy sources are not very popular because of their high price. 3D printing helps enthusiasts design and build low-cost models of wind turbines.

3D printed home wind turbine

In an apartment building, there is hardly a place where a wind generator will be effective, but for example, in a country house, it can be a good helper in case of a power outage.

Wind turbine production optimization

An industrial wind generator is a complex mechanism of gigantic size.

Industrial wind turbine blade

Using only 3D modeling techniques, it can be difficult to correctly calculate all the parameters. Thanks to 3D printers, it is possible to create a miniature copy of a wind turbine and test it in a wind tunnel. This helps to optimize and refine the design of wind generators, making them more efficient.

Prototype wind turbine being tested in wind tunnel

And some companies offer to print towers for wind turbines on a 3D printer. GE Renewable Energy, 3D printing specialists COBOD and LafargeHolcim (a manufacturer of cement and other building materials) have teamed up to develop the world's tallest wind turbine towers. This will reduce the cost of installing wind turbines and make them higher (200 meters instead of 100) than from other materials.

3D printed wind turbine tower

After all, the higher the wind generator, the more electricity it can generate in a year. For example, a 5 MW turbine at a height of 80 meters will generate approximately 15.1 GWh per year. The same turbine at a height of 160 meters - 20.2 GWh per year, which is 30% more.

Solar energy

Solar energy is obtained using special panels, consisting of photovoltaic cells, in which a series of physical and chemical processes take place under the influence of sunlight. There are several types of solar cells - monocrystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous (flexible, film).

In Russia, solar batteries are not very common due to the unprofitability of use in high latitudes.

Currently, developments are underway for the production of panels on a 3D printer, but the main use of 3D printing in solar energy is to print prototypes and accessories for panels.

Accessories for solar panels

South Dakota-based Peppermint Energy created FORTY2. FORTY2 is a portable solar panel with enough power to run a laptop, lighting, etc.

For the production of a prototype case, 3D printing was used on an industrial Stratasys printer. Thanks to 3D printing, it was possible to quickly produce several functional prototypes of the case and remove all the flaws.

For example, the first version of FORTY was too bulky and inconvenient to transport. The original design was greatly simplified. The use of a 3D printer has reduced production costs by about $250,000.


Most renewable energy sources (solar, wind) are fickle. Electricity obtained in this way must be “stabilized” - stored in batteries.

Water in this regard is more predictable. Industrial hydroelectric power plants have a number of disadvantages. For example, flood risk, desertification, human migration, etc. Small hydro-generators, in general, are devoid of the shortcomings of their industrial counterparts and do not have such a devastating effect on the environment.

Vortex turbine

The Belgian startup team Turbulent is trying to create a compact hydroelectric generator that is enough to provide electricity to 1-2 private houses. This will help people who are far from the power grid to provide their homes with electricity using the energy of streams or small rivers.

Hydro generator prototype from Turbulent

To make the turbine more accessible and cheaper, 3D printing has been chosen as a manufacturing method. According to statistics, 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity networks, even more residents have constant power outages and are forced to use other, not environmentally friendly, energy sources (for example, gasoline / diesel generators).

River turbine

Ted Christopher spent several years developing a prototype river turbine capable of generating electricity without impacting the environment. The result of his developments was the Volturn system, named after the god of the river in Greek mythology.

The Volturn has a horizontal design that generates power and deflects river debris such as rocks, plants or logs.

The prototype was 3D printed and tested in local rivers. 5 turbines combined into a single system will be able to provide electricity to about 40 houses.

Plastic recycling

Plastic. Its properties, for the modern world, become both a salvation and a curse for the environment. On the one hand, plastic products are light and durable, you do not need to spend a lot of time on their manufacture. At the same time, not all types of plastic can be recycled. On average, a plastic product can decompose from 400 to 700 years, and unfortunately plastic rots not only in landfills, but also pollutes nature and the oceans.

Filament recycling

During 3D printing, plastic debris is inevitably left behind. These can be model supports or broken products, during the printing of which something went wrong.

3D printing failed

But used plastic can be shredded, mixed with fresh pellets, and reused (as long as the plastic is not biodegradable). In this case, 3D printing becomes almost waste-free.

On the Internet, you can find many options for home machines for the production of plastic thread. It can be a self-assembly machine, partially printed on a 3D printer.

Home self-assembly filament machine

Or a finished machine made at the factory. Pellets for plastic production can be easily ordered online.

Home filament machine

Plastic bottle filament

In addition to recycling used filament, enthusiasts have learned to print even from plastic bottles.

Homemade machine for making plastic thread from plastic bottles

Every day, around 100 million plastic bottles are used and thrown away around the world, and only 20% of them are recycled or reused. A plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose! The use of plastic bottles as a material for a 3D printer will give them a new life in the form of useful things for the home.

Bottle printed spool

3D printed bottle gear

From one bottle, from 15 to 30 grams of plastic filament is obtained.


3D printers still have a long way to go to become truly sustainable, but even now, despite the imperfection of the technology, they can help reduce environmental pollution.

Already now, thanks to 3D printing, many good deeds are being done - it is possible to improve production technologies, even if only a little, to reduce the amount of emissions into the atmosphere and, of course, to try to restore the fragile natural balance.

It is important to remember that a 3D printer is just a tool and it depends only on the consciousness of a person whether it will be useful or continue to replenish landfills with unnecessary plastic waste.

Towards a brighter future with 3D printed lights

The Dutch company Yuugn creates luminaires for office buildings, commercial spaces and schools using 3D printing, with a focus on sustainability and environmental friendliness.

Several times a day we turn on the light with the flick of a switch, regardless of the huge amount of energy consumed by each light bulb.

Yuugn, a subsidiary of the Lichtdivisie brand, designs and manufactures environmentally friendly luminaires to meet every need and specification. Yuugn is a name derived from the Japanese word for "to be one with nature" and the company follows this philosophy with the BCN3D Sigma D25 3D printers, using biodegradable materials to minimize hazardous waste.

“As a company, we feel responsible for the production of environmentally friendly products in order to reduce the environmental pollution that occurs with traditional production methods” . – Louise Cisneros, Yuugn Marketing Manager.

3D printing for sustainable manufacturing

Yuugn's headquarters in the Netherlands house three Sigma D25 3D printers used for both prototyping and end-use parts.

Let's look at an example of 3D printed lights:

In bright metallic purple, the body of the Downlight swirl luminaire, which is installed in ceilings to direct light downwards. The swirl light ring, which is already a design item, is also 3D printed, and thanks to the really good quality of the finish, it looks impressive. This product uses carbon fiber reinforced biodegradable PLA that is durable and high temperature resistant, two vital considerations in the lighting industry.

The side covers of the ZIP module 60 LED luminaire, decorated with the brand logo, were also created for end use using the BCN3D Sigma D25 3D printer. These parts are also printed with PLA using carbon fiber.

Because every product requested by customers is different, customization is key for Yuugn. Going from idea to Stratos software to print gives the team the freedom to be flexible. Through 3D printing, Yuugn provides its customers with products that are fully compatible and tailored to the specific needs of their projects.

How does Yuugn manage to be sustainable in the market?

The ability to 3D print in duplicating mode was paramount in deciding whether to purchase a manufacturing method that could lower their carbon footprint.

“Duplicate mode gives you two 3D printers for the price of one!” . – Martijn Broekhuis, CEO of Yuugn.

IDEX technology in the Sigma D25 saves time and money by rapidly prototyping the individual products required by each customer, while the local production capability contributes to a more environmentally friendly product.

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