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Could 3-D Printing Be Threatening Our Planet?

You may have heard of a new technology that lets you print whatever you want with the touch of a button. But do you know the risks of this technology?

3-D printing is a technology that seems like it’s always being discussed somewhere. True, 3-D printing does offer many industries ways to more reliably be environmentally-friendly and lessen transportation tasks. But with all of those benefits, it doesn’t mean that 3-D printers are without fault. Here are four of the issues that come with 3-D printing.

3-D Printers Use a lot of Energy
3-D printers consume more energy performing the same processes as is in the same processes completed traditionally. For example, 3-D printers consume 50 to 100 times more energy than other processes when melting plastic with heat or lasers. Further, direct metal deposition processes in 3-D printing — a process in which metal powder is fused together — uses hundreds of time more than other types of metal casting.

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3-D Printers Emit Unhealthy Air
If you ever have thought about purchasing a 3-D printer for your house, you might want to think again. 3-D printers are a serious health risk, similar to the effects of burning a cigarette or cooking on a gas stove in terms of bad emissions. The particles emitted by 3-D printers can lodge in the bloodstream or lungs, worsening some of the health issues of vulnerable people.

3-D Printers Use Too Much Plastic
As you probably know, plastic is one of the most common materials used by 3-D printers, particularly ABS plastic filament. While this is a raw material that reduces the amount of overall waste, the printers still waste plastic in the print beds. Additionally, many processes are beginning to use recyclable plastics, but in this process, the plastic being produced is not recyclable.

3-D Printed Items Often Go Unregulated
Unlike traditionally manufactured goods, manufacturers of 3-D printed items often have less responsibility. For example, if a person prints a gun and sells it to someone who uses it to shoot another person, who is liable for the accident? Additionally, 3-D printed items can remain untested, leaving room for more and more problems with faulty or breakable products, especially on a small scale.

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