AMGTA Study Sheds Light on the Environmental Perks of Using 3D Printing in the Fashion Sector


Global trade group Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) has released a study emphasizing the environmental advantages of additive manufacturing in the fashion industry.

The year-long study, ‘Comparative Analysis: 3D Material Jetting vs Traditional Methods for Designer Luxury Goods’, assessed the cradle-to-gate environmental impact of a 3D logo affixed to the heel of a luxury athletic shoe.

The study concluded that the 3D printed component, fabricated through material jetting, led to a significantly smaller environmental footprint compared to the part created using conventional methods.

Specifically, the 3D printed part resulted in a 24.8% decrease in CO2e emissions, and a 48% reduction in raw material in comparison with its conventionally fabricated counterpart.

Conducted by Reeves Insight, a UK-based additive manufacturing consultancy, the study was commissioned by the AMGTA. The initiative was carried out in coordination with 3D printer manufacturing company Stratasys, Italian luxury fashion enterprise Pattern Group, and its branch, Dyloan Bond Factory.

Sherri Monroe, the Executive Director at AMGTA, expressed her satisfaction at launching the third research piece in a series of independently commissioned papers, their goal being to reveal the environmental benefits of adopting additive manufacturing. She emphasised the organisation’s dedication to promoting research and publication that helps to better understand the sustainability value of AM technologies in the broader manufacturing cycle for diverse business cases.

She went on to state that their first research initiative involving a polymer, a collaborative study with Stratasys and Pattern Group assessing the effect of a print-to-textile procedure, provided significant data in favour of the value of AM. This value lies in its impact on one of the most historically polluting industries globally.

The CEO of Stratasys, Dr. Yoav Zeif, added his thoughts, stating that the study exemplified how the adoption of their advanced AM offering enables customers to implement manufacturing solutions that better their environmental impact. Plus, it delivers a competitive advantage through innovation in production for design.

The 3D logo component assessed during the AMGTA study. Image via AMGTA.

How was the study conducted?

Commissioned in 2022, the study compared the production of a 3D shoe accessory using both traditional and additive manufacturing techniques. 

The traditional multiple-step process included 2D inkjet printing and thermal welding of injection molded parts with sheet polyurethane materials. On the other hand, the additive manufacturing process required significantly fewer steps, and included material jetting using photocurable liquid resins.  

The study carried out a comparison and evaluation of two processes, producing 16,000 logo components which were used in 8,000 pairs of shoes. The components manufactured additively were created using the Stratasys Polyjet J850 TechStyle 3D printer.

In the post-manufacturing evaluation, the environmental impact of the materials and processes used for manufacturing was considered. The main factors assessed were emissions to land, water, and air. Within the report, air emissions were denoted as Global Warming Potential (GWP), measured in carbon dioxide equivalent units (CO2e).

The study importantly did not furnish a full Life-Cycle-Analysis (LCA) of the final shoe product. Instead, it provided a detailed Life-Cycle-Inventory (LCI) specifically for the manufacturing stage of the 3D logo components, leading up to the eventual production of the footwear.

All outputs from and inputs to the manufacturing phase were considered in this study. The inputs inspected were raw materials and energy. The outputs took into account emissions to air, water, and soil, in addition to the generation of solid waste, products, and co-products.

3D logo component position on the shoe. Image via AMGTA.

Key findings of the study

Ultimately, 3D printing using material jetting was found to produce 24.8% less CO2e emissions than the traditional manufacturing process.

Across the 16,000 logo components, 3D printing delivered one metric tonne less CO2e into the atmosphere. The report also noted that improving the efficiency and productivity of the 3D printer could reduce these CO2e emissions even further.

Research reveals that 3D printing necessitates 49.3% fewer materials by weight in comparison to conventional manufacturing, thereby depicting a reduction of one-third of a metric ton in stock materials. It’s also noteworthy that the 3D printed equipment uses 50.5% less material than the traditionally manufactured item, resulting in a lighter final outcome.

The research also sheds light on the fact that traditional manufacturing of 16,000 logos required over 300,000 liters of water, a consequence of employing a paper-backed PU sheet as the main binding substance. Conversely, 3D printing did not call for any water usage.

Discussing energy consumption, conventional manufacturing methods like injection molding and thermal bonding required 7,122 kWh of electric power. On the contrary, material jetting 3D printing needed only 2,548 kWh, thus utilizing 64% less electricity than the traditional manufacturing process.

Nevertheless, the study also pointed out that both conventional and additive manufacturing procedures generate approximately 150 kg of non-recyclable trash. Traditional manufacturing further resulted in 131 kg of recyclable waste, while no recyclable waste was observed in the 3D printing method.

Moreover, the traditional manufacturing supply chain was found to have a slightly lower environmental impact than the 3D printing supply chain, with regard to transport-related emissions. This disparity was driven by the longer distances associated with transporting speciality resins, with traditional manufacturing using local supply chain partners.

Global Warming Potential by scope for traditional manufacturing and 3D printing of 16,000 logo components. Image via AMGTA.

Calculating the sustainability of additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is certainly seeing a growing focus on sustainability. Earlier this year, AMGTA conducted an LCA comparing traditional casting to binder jetting for an industrial part.

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was carried out by the Yale School of the Environment together with the industrial 3D printer producing company Desktop Metal and U.S. acclaimed “climate innovator” Trane Technologies. The result from the binder jet 3D printing study indicated a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to the reduced energy consumption in the production process.

In other news, 3D Printing Industry was present at the AM Summit 2023, the largest additive manufacturing conference in Scandinavia, where a considerable emphasis was placed on examining the relationship between sustainability and 3D printing.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format