A Sustainability Revolution In 3D?


“After 13 hours of assembling all the parts, I finally got home with a perfectly functional 3D printer. A machine that can automatically sculpt and create almost any object, like something out of science fiction; and how did I make this fandandangled contraption? I printed it of course…

The possibilities of 3D printing are seemingly limitless, crossing multiple disciplines, ranging from the arts to the sciences, and various industries, including the automotive industry and bioengineering. For example, fashion designers have printed shoes and researchers have used 3D printing to create ears, prostheses and other customized body parts.Since the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing has been synonymous with factories, machine tools, production lines and economies of scale. Thus, thinking about manufacturing without tooling, assembly lines or supply chains sounds like a far-fetched dream. But this is exactly what is happening - 3D printing lowers risks, reduces production constraints, and minimizes costs associated with manufacturing.

Imagine finishing a Coke can. You throw the red aluminium shell into a grinder at the back of your house. The machine crunches the metal down like a greedy dog, and pops out a small chunk of 3D printing material. After thirty cans, you finally have enough! You bring all the material to the printer, download an open source IPhone cover design, and print yourself a cool new cover. That, as one would say, is sustainability! Imagine this example across a wider variety of materials, and imagine what the consequences would be?HLC is thinking about this at the moment, and we believe there is untapped potential for this technology in the medical sector. We are also wondering:
  • Will NGOs promote this as the solution to the future?
  • What does this mean for supply chain management? What impact does removing distributors have on the supply chain?
  • And most importantly, how long do we have to wait until we get this? Oh wait, remember I told you at the beginning, I already have a 3D printer at home.

If you would like to talk to us personally about anything, you can reach Joe at joseph.elborn@harwoodlevitt.com