Sustainable Innovation for 3D Printing: Making a Green Option Greener

Once a futuristic novelty, additive manufacturing – commonly known as 3D printing – is now a $4.1 billion industry. 3D printing is already a green manufacturing process by nature because it avoids scrap material, but it has the potential to be even greener if the resin used for the printing is sustainable. However, so far the most popular materials for 3D printing are plastics, notably Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS).

  • ABS has advantages such as being low-cost, strong, stable and even approved for use in food processing
  • But polylactic acid (PLA) is becoming competitive due to advantages such as a lower melt profile, nicer surface appearance and a better smell (due to feedstock sources like sugar cane and corn starch)
  • PLA’s biodegradable nature and inability to endure higher temperatures makes it less appealing for some applications, but it has proved to be ideal for medical prosthetics like anchors, screws, plates, pins and rods

View this white paper to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of ABS and PLA, and to find out more about 3D printing materials.

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