Special Seminar: Sustainability of 3D Printing — Myths, Facts, and Possibilities

Jeremy Faludi, Sustainable Design Strategist, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

Thursday, April 14, 2016, 3:30–4:30pm

MacLean B01, Zaleski Auditorium

3D printing is beginning to revolutionize manufacturing—will it be for the better? The sustainability of 3D printing is the subject of much hype; some claims are empirically supported, others are not. To help separate fact from fiction, multiple studies were performed using life-cycle assessment to quantify the environmental impacts of eight 3D printers of five different types, from desktop to industrial scale, as well as two CNC mills for comparison. Seventeen environmental impact categories were assessed and scored using the ReCiPe Endpoint H methodology, to compare impacts of energy use, material use and waste, as well as the raw material and manufacturing of the 3D printers themselves, their transportation, and end of life. The functional unit of comparison for all studies was the manufacture of a specific part, to simulate a "general prototyping" task.  Sensitivity analysis examined several usage scenarios, spanning high- and low-utilization. Results from these studies showed some of today's most common claims of green 3D printing to be inaccurate, while some real sustainability advantages are rarely discussed. The talk will summarize these results and briefly review other literature to describe 3D printing’s promise for the future of green manufacturing and design.

About the Speaker

Jeremy Faludi (LEED AP BD+C) has been a sustainable design strategist and educator for over fifteen years. He has taught sustainable product design at Stanford University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, California College of the Arts, and elsewhere. He co-authored the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, viewed by over a million people from over 150 countries, as well as Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute's online learning program. He has contributed to six books on sustainability, including Worldchanging: A User's Guide to the 21st Century, as well as his academic journal articles and technical reports for industry. 

Jeremy designed the prototype of AskNature.org for the Biomimicry Institute, and a bicycle he helped design appeared in the Cooper Hewitt museum's exhibit "Design for the Other 90%." He was sustainability manager for Project Frog, one of the leaders in modular green building, and has consulted for Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He is one of the leading experts in life cycle assessment of 3D printing, and has consulted on the subject for Autodesk and the OECD.

For more information, contact Jessica Widdicombe at jessica.c.widdicombe@dartmouth.edu.