Entering A New Dimension: 3D Printing And Sustainability

oliver General, Technology/ Energy Saving

Are you  ready for the future? Well, here is a little glimpse of it. 3D printing is set to revolutionise the way we manufacture products, possibly even taking our homes back to the days of the cottage industry. Imagine being able to engineer your own foods or take waste plastic and transform it into products such as plates, tools or cutlery. Well, it’s all going to be happening within the next ten years.


Even better, we could be using the things around us as the raw materials for the products that we use everyday. Pretty exciting stuff, I’m sure you will agree.


3D printers work by converting digital data into three-dimensional models, using computer aided design and manufacture. It’s a huge step forward and could be revolutionary for the worlds of many industries, including property developers, artists, architects  product developers and even chefs. But it also has incredible domestic potential. Just imagine being able to turn old plastic bottles into a new pair of shoes. Recycling in front of your very eyes, without having to send it all off in the back of the recycling lorry.

First up is this selection of digital food printers developed by those clever people at MIT, that brings cooking and gastronomy steaming into the digital age; allowing food to be invented, printed layer by layer with extreme precision and then cooked. Not only does it allow us to make unique creations,  to control nutritional accuracy but also to reduce carbon footprints for a variety of meals. This sounds like so much fun, like a mini Willy Wonka in your kitchen.



On a grittier note check out this video by Markus Kayser. Here he takes two things we’re really not short of (on the planet, not specifically the UK, of course), sunlight and sand. Exploring the potential of desert manufacture where ‘energy and material occur in abundance’, Kayser creates glass sculptures. Now OK, they’re quite basic but given the paucity of equipment on display it’s almost miraculous what he can achieve. Love that outfit too!.

 SolarSinter Project, by Markus Kayser



Will Shannon also uses a material that’s in plentiful supply but, in any old kitchen in fact. His Mobile Chipboard Factory is a movable production line that shreds old board into dust before mixing it with ‘syrup’ to create a papier maché type substance. This can then be moulded into the desired shape before setting hard, creating new furniture. Its fabulously low tech, but fun.




This waste plastic extruder by Web4Deb turns waste plastic into a growth medium for plants. This allows you to recycle plastic at home to create a usable by product. Cutting out the middleman in the recycling program has massive implications for reducing the carbon emissions and costs of council schemes.



And if all that seems too far off, well don’t forget we’re already creating useful stuff from our recycled home food and garden waste. Yes, don’t give up on your home composter, there’s loads of “blooming life” in it yet.