Should we be concerned about the influence of 3D printing on the sustainability of the world?

I am all for the amazing progress that the 3D printers will bring with them. However I have got an issue with the huge increase in plastic this will surely bring.

And as per this link now there is a solution that allows you to dissolve PLA and thus use it as a support material? Seriously?
Where does the dissolved PLA go? Down the drain?? The blog calls it: “basically the equivalent of a heavy duty drain cleaner”. Sure this will be bad for the fish to drink.

I am feeling a bit queezy here thinking about the increase in plastic used and discarded when everyone has got a 3D printer sitting in their living room? Coat hook broken? Let’s print another one! Yey! But what to do with the old one? We’ll just throw it in the trash shall we?
Sure we will manufacture on demand and we don’t have to hold great stocks any more which should go a long way to saving on the amount of wasted plastic. But imagine if it were really that easy that you just had to hit the print button to get a plastic part? If it is really that easy to create, you would probably not value the product as much and throw it away as easily as well?

I think that together with this 3D printing movement there should be a focus on parallel development of some kind of recycling machine that scraps printed products that are discarded and brings it back to a virgin state, ready for reusing in the printer. And perhaps a serious movement that develops biodegradeable materials.

I say that the ultimate would be a 3D printer that doesn’t print plastic or anything cruel like that, but would reorganize matter as we know it. Print layers of molecules and atoms. Building a product from its Smallest Common Denominator Particle. Then being able to break it down again to be reused. Yes, sounds far fetched but hey.. it’s not like 30 years ago we couldn’t imagine having machines that we sit behind and connect us to the rest of the world instantly, right?

Anyway.. I hope that this 3D printing movement doesn’t go full force and in 5 years we smack our heads in dispear because we have a major problem with all that plastic sitting at the world’s waste tips! Sure the increase in cost of oil will help developing other means of creating an extrudable plastic-like substance. Hopefully they will be biodegradable as well and not just shift the issue to a different substance..

Anyone having the same concerns?



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