In France, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published a report, “3D Printing and its Environmental Implications,” that looks at 3D printing’s sustainability implications and environmental impact. The report notes that 3D printing uses more energy and often generates more waste than traditional machining and is not as green as most people assume, but that 3D printing does have an overall smaller environmental footprint which is good news.
The report compares a variety of 3D printing technologies and discusses the pros and cons of each as it relates to sustainability attributes. The OECD report also recommends recommendations for improving 3D printing’s environmental footprint such as decreasing energy usage by transitioning from processes that melt plastics or metals to non-toxic chemical bonding techniques. Other recommendations were to maximize printer sharing and to use compostable biomaterials for the printing materials instead of the most popular PLA which is not composted in most municipal systems.