A Comparative Meta-Life Cycle Inventory Analysis: Energy and Water Consumption of 3D Printing Methods vs. Conventional Manufacturing in Clothing Production

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A Comparative Meta-Life Cycle Inventory Analysis: Energy and Water Consumption of 3D Printing Methods vs. Conventional Manufacturing in Clothing Production

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Title: A Comparative Meta-Life Cycle Inventory Analysis: Energy and Water Consumption of 3D Printing Methods vs. Conventional Manufacturing in Clothing Production
Author: Li, Jujube
Citation: Li, Jujube. 2015. A Comparative Meta-Life Cycle Inventory Analysis: Energy and Water Consumption of 3D Printing Methods vs. Conventional Manufacturing in Clothing Production. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
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Abstract: In the past three decades, textile fiber production has grown more than twofold, reflecting an increasing demand for both fossil and natural resources (Turley et. al., 2009, p.9) resulting in the intensification of environmental impacts such as water scarcity, abiotic depletion, and toxic pollution. Although potentially disruptive technology such as three-dimensional printing (3DP) can eliminate entire supply chain components and potentially reduce energy and water in textile and apparel production, 3DP as an application for clothing production is still at its nascent stage of development––the world’s first 3D-printed garment being created only in 2010. As prevention is preferable to mitigation, it is timely to examine key environmental impacts of potentially disruptive technology in advance of its proliferation. By using environmental management tools such as ISO14044:2006 and the life cycle inventory analysis (LCI) method to identify hotspots for two key impact areas––water and energy consumption––of prevalent 3D printing methods versus that of the conventional cut-and-sew method in clothing production, environmental sustainability parameters can then be established to target underperforming areas and improve the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of future garments. Using one standard T-shirt as a functional unit, this meta-life cycle inventory analysis will compare the energy and water demands of using three main AM techniques––selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM), and field guided fabrication (FGF)––against that of using the conventional cut-and-sew method to create one standard T-shirt out of six most representative materials.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:24078377
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