Discovering Environmental Advantages: AMGTA Study Explores the Impact of 3D Printing in Fashion Industry


Global trade group Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) has conducted a research study to underline the ecological advantages of additive manufacturing in the realm of fashion. 

The study, christened ‘Comparative Analysis: 3D Material Jetting versus Traditional Techniques for High-End Designer Products’, was carried out over a span of a year and worked towards calculating the environmental influence from the starting point to the end product of a 3D logo that was embedded onto the heel of a posh athletic footgear. 

The findings of the study indicated that the 3D printed detail, which was made possible due to material jetting, was responsible for a considerably lesser environmental downside when measured against the portion that was brought into shape using the conventional means. 

In reality, the 3D printed detail facilitated a decline in CO2e emissions by as much as 24.8%, and brought about a contraction in stock material by about 48% when held against its counterpart produced via the traditional manufacturing approach.   

Commissioned by the AMGTA, the study was conducted by UK-based additive manufacturing consultancy Reeves Insight in collaboration with 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys, Italian luxury fashion firm Pattern Group and its subsidiary, Dyloan Bond Factory.

“We are pleased to issue the third body of research in a series of independently commissioned papers designed to reveal the environmental benefits of additive manufacturing adoption. We are committed to advancing the research and publication required to better understand the sustainable value of AM technologies as part of the manufacturing cycle for broad business cases,” commented Sherri Monroe, the AMGTA’s Executive Director.

“This collaborative study with Stratasys and Pattern Group, assessing the impact of a print-to-textile process, is our first research undertaking involving polymer. It delivers important data that supports the value of AM to impact one of the most historically polluting industries in the world.”

Stratasys CEO Dr. Yoav Zeif added, “This study showcases how the adoption of our advanced AM offering empowers customers to deliver manufacturing solutions that improve their impact on the environment and at the same time deliver 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 evaluated and compared both processes, with a production run of 16,000 logo components for 8,000 pairs of shoes. The additively manufactured parts were produced using the Stratasys Polyjet J850 TechStyle 3D printer.

The post-manufacturing analysis considered the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes and materials used. The primary analysis metrics were air, water, and land emissions. In the report, air emissions are presented as Global Warming Potential (GWP) measured in carbon dioxide equivalent units (CO2e).

It is worth noting that this study did not provide a full Life-Cycle-Analysis (LCA) of the final footwear. Instead, a detailed Life-Cycle-Inventory (LCI) for the 3D logo component manufacturing stage, leading to eventual footwear production, was provided.

All inputs to and outputs from the manufacturing stage were evaluated in this study. The inputs assessed were energy and raw materials. The outputs include emissions to air, water, and soil; solid waste generation; 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.

3D printing has been found to utilize 49.3% less material in weight compared to the conventional manufacturing supply chain, which amounts to about a third of a metric ton less of stock material. In essence, the 3D printed accessory employs 50.5% less material than its conventionally made equivalent, leading to a final product that is much lighter. 

In the study, it was also observed that the traditional manufacturing of 16,000 logo components required in excess of 300,000 liters of water, mainly due to the employment of a paper-backed PU sheet as the major binding agent. In contrast, 3D printing did not necessitate the use of any water. 

Concerning energy consumption, the traditional methods of manufacturing such as injection molding and thermal bonding utilized 7,122 kWh of electrical energy. However, material jetting 3D printing only required 2,548 kWh, which is 64% less electricity when compared to conventional manufacturing. 

The study did point out though, that both the traditional and additive manufacturing processes generated approximately 150 kg of waste that could not be recycled. Traditional manufacturing also generated 131 kg of waste that could be recycled, with no recyclable waste associated with the 3D printing method.

Furthermore, it was discovered that the conventional manufacturing supply chain has a slightly lower environmental impact than the 3D printing supply chain in regards to emissions from transportation. This variance is due to the greater distances required for transporting specialty resins, compared to traditional manufacturing’s local supply chain partners.

Assessing the sustainability of additive manufacturing

The attention towards sustainability in additive manufacturing is certainly ascending. Earlier this year, AMGTA executed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparing the traditional casting with binder jetting for an industrial part.

The Yale School of the Environment (YSE) conducted this LCA in collaboration with the industrial 3D printer manufacturer Desktop Metal and the US-based “climate innovator” Trane Technologies. It was revealed that binder jet 3D printing resulted in a 38% reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases due to decreased energy usage during the production phase.

Moreover, 3D Printing Industry attended the AM Summit 2023, the largest additive manufacturing conference in Scandinavia. The event highlighted a significant emphasis on 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