So What can 3D printing do for E-Waste?
Last Sunday night Conor appeared on a TV show called, ‘A Rough Guide to the Future’ and Sunday night’s episode dealt with e-waste and linked to an interview with Conor at our HQ in Dunleer begging the question, what can 3D printing do for E-Waste?
Between 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year. That’s a lot of old printers, scanners, fax machines, mice, keyboards, and mobile phones!
As Conor points out it is possible that 3D printing will be able to produce an actual product (minus perhaps the LCD and chip) in the future. And it also makes sense that in order to slow product obsolescence and e-waste, consumers must be able to repair their own high-tech devices and household appliances. Rather than going back to the manufacturer for replacement parts, people can just scan their old parts and 3D print new ones – where does this leave manufacturers in terms of IP and resulting loss of revenue?
The truth is the advancement in 3D printing could well change the process in which spare parts are managed as we know it! It is only a matter of time before manufacturing companies get in on the act – if the International Space Station can use a 3D printer to print spare parts, why can’t any other manufacturer in the future?
3D printing could become a part of their inventory strategy. This not only prevents products becoming obsolete, it also will slow down the production of e-waste. Whether it’s 3D printing parts and components themselves or using local professional printers, the difficulties of rare, high-cost parts could become a thing of the past. Paying big money to fly a hard-to-find part from one side of the globe to another could be a thing of the past! And producing parts and components as needed eliminates the need for supply chain management.
However only time will tell if 3D printing will revolutionize the way manufacturers manage their supply chain and inventories but the ingredients are there.