How 3D printing improves sustainability across the supply chain
After analyzing several studies about energy efficiency of 3D printing, the answer is not as simple. Due to very individual use cases (machine, product and process characteristics), comparability of traditional methods and 3D printing is not always generally possible. While compared with subtractive methods, 3D printing can be more energy efficient (especially due to lesser material consumption). The energy consumption of 3D printing compared to injection molding is generally considered to be higher due to a way longer production time per part (less than a minute per part for injection molding, several hours for 3D printing). However, other factors such as the energy consumption for producing the mold, the production volume and material efficiency have to be taken into account. When looking into lower volumes, it becomes a fact that additive manufacturing is a more sustainable production method, regarding energy efficiency.