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3D Printing Being Used To Help Nature

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3D Printing Is Saving The Rhinos
The rhino is especially hit hard. Their horns fetch more money on the black market than cocaine or gold. Sadly, socio political efforts have done little to fix this situation.

Fortunately, it looks like technology might just provide the solution that nothing else could. A company out of Seattle that specializes in bio-tech is using 3D printing to recreate rhino horns out of keratin. The founders of Pembient believe that by producing a genetic equivalent to a rhino horn, they will effectively put poachers out of business. Instead of taking on the risk and expense of dealing with criminals, artists will be able to legally purchase fabricated horns.

The company’s premise is based on the belief that it’s impossible to reduce demand for these horns. This is because creating carvings from them represents tribal traditions going back centuries. Selling these carvings is also an important source of income.

The Environmental Impact of 3D Printing Itself
Before exploring other startups that are doing awesome things with 3D printing, let’s consider the process involved in creating objects with this technology. The 3D printing process often uses plastics and it takes energy to successfully 3D print items.

However, FDM printing compared to SLA printing has a lower environmental impact than other technologies and a few companies have already shown how this technology could be used for recycling and up-cycling home junk. Now, let’s have a look on the other environmentally-friendly applications of this technology.

3D Printed Six Pack Rings
Saltwater Brewery, a Florida-based microbrewery, is doing something unique to combat the problem of traditional six pack rings harming marine life. The problem with the plastic rings is that they nearly always wind up in the ocean. There, they can suffocate, constrict, choke, or otherwise harm animals that ingest or become entangled in them.

To solve this problem, Saltwater Brewery 3D prints edible six pack rings out of byproducts created by the brewing process. The result is that what doesn’t break down can be consumed by ocean animals. This is more effective than current efforts, which involve adding chemicals in an attempt to make the rings photo-degradable, which is a good start but not very effective in the depths of the ocean.

Environmentally Friendly And Fair Trade Printer Filament
Protoprint is a startup that is trying to solve two important social issues. The first is that they are trying to improve living and working conditions for India’s waste pickers. The second is that they are trying to find an environmentally sustainable use for the plastic waste that litters India and other developing nations.

By forming a partnership with Swatch, Protoprint is using plastic waste collected by laborers to create 3D printer filament. Even better, they are paying workers sustainable, fair trade wages for their efforts. Consumers will also benefit as these filaments will be noticeably less expensive.