Stratasys commits to ‘mindful manufacturing’ in first sustainability report for 3D printing

3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has published its first sustainability report outlining its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities regarding 3D printing climate action and social impact. 

With the report, the company has underlined its commitment to achieving more sustainable ‘mindful manufacturing’ through additive manufacturing, particularly in regards to designing for responsible production and consumption and renewable energy projects. 

“I believe that global manufacturing is at a crossroads,” said Stratasys CEO Yoav Zeif. “Due to growing pressure to address supply chain challenges and energy efficiency needs, 3D printing is increasingly being explored to meet such business goals.

“I believe that during 2022 and into the next decade, rapid growth in the adoption of manufacturing-scale 3D printing will bring additional innovation to the market, improve supply chains and reduce environmental impact.”

New rooftop solar installation under construction at Stratasys' Kiryat Gat Manufacturing installation. Photo via Stratasys.
New rooftop solar installation under construction at Stratasys’ Kiryat Gat Manufacturing installation. Photo via Stratasys.

Stratasys’ sustainability goals

Last year, the company formally established its Stratasys Sustainability function and outlined its commitment to achieving circular economy processes, climate action, and social change within the 3D printing sector. 

To oversee the implementation of its sustainability agenda, Stratasys hired Rosa Coblens as its Vice President of Sustainability. Coblens is leading the firm’s efforts to meet several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely responsible consumption and production, innovation and infrastructure, taking climate action, and ensuring the delivery of quality education. 

Stratasys has also joined the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) as a founding member, of which Coblens now serves on the Board of Directors. The AMGTA was co-founded in 2019 by Sintavia, Taito Nippon Sanso Corporation and QC Laboratories, with the core aim of promoting the green credentials of 3D printing and advancing sustainability within the industry. 

Since then, the likes of GE Additive, Materialise, Siemens Digital Industries, and EOS have been selected to join the association and promote the environmental benefits of 3D printing in favor of traditional manufacturing processes. 

A graphic depicting the current members of the AMGTA.
Members of the AMGTA. Image via the AMGTA.

Stratasys’ sustainability report

The company’s inaugural sustainability report provides benchmarks for its future ESG targets and outlines current initiatives underway to achieve more mindful manufacturing within the 3D printing sector. 

Mindful manufacturing, according to Stratasys, involves the thoughtful redesign of processes, parts and supply chains through leveraging 3D printing across the product lifecycle to maximize sustainability over time. In particular, the firm’s ESG targets focus on design for responsible production and consumption, transparency, people-first initiatives, social impact programs, renewable energy projects, quality education, industry innovation, and climate action. 

“With growing adoption, advanced software platforms, and collaboration with industry-leading customers around the world, the Stratasys portfolio will continue to provide transformative technology to support the factory of the future,” said Zeif. “Together with our corporate purpose of empowering people to create without limits for an economical, personalized, and sustainable world, this report reflects our deep commitment to a comprehensive, industry-leading ESG strategy.”

Throughout the manufacturing sector, there is growing recognition of the potential for 3D printing to achieve environmental goals by reducing energy consumption and waste. According to the US Department of Energy (DoE), when compared to traditional manufacturing methods like CNC, additive manufacturing can reduce materials costs and waste by almost 90 percent, while lowering energy consumption by up to 50 percent

Stratasys has also observed a growing interest in lightweight polymer parts for sectors such as aerospace, which are designed to improve fuel economy without compromising durability and reliability. As a result, the firm estimates that by the end of 2025, the polymer 3D printing market in aviation alone will grow at an annual growth rate of 18 percent to $1.6 billion.

The report states that while 3D printing is touted as being more environmentally friendly than traditional manufacturing processes, this is not frequently measured. To address this, the company has committed to co-creating the research and case studies needed to bring the data and proof points to the forefront to demonstrate the sustainability of 3D printing.

Within its report, Stratasys also outlines its intention to position additive manufacturing at the forefront of localized manufacturing on a global scale. The firm identifies a need for more agile, shorter supply chains in sectors such as automotive, alongside 3D printing-enabled on-site production, digital networks, and virtual inventories.

The report reiterated the company’s commitment to addressing the four SDGs it outlined upon launching its Stratasys Sustainability function last year. The firm is currently exploring how additive manufacturing can achieve more responsible production through reduced waste, reused materials, and recycled packaging, and is also working to reduce its carbon footprint and that of its customers as part of its climate action pledge. 

Addressing quality education, Stratasys is partnering with local municipalities to integrate 3D printing into the everyday lives of children’s education, while its commitment to improving industry and infrastructure is focusing on enabling designers, engineers, and manufacturers with local on-demand capabilities to improve quality of life for people across the globe.

The company has also seen 3D printing gain support for the role it can play in advancing social impact programs, such as STEAM education opportunities and entrepreneurship, and Stratasys’ own “learning by making” program in Jerusalem. 

“As a leading global polymer 3D printing solutions provider, we have the ability to make a measurable impact on some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from building circularity into the economy to creating more inclusive educational opportunities,” said Coblens.

“Given our position as a sustainability leader, this report demonstrates our long-term commitment to continuous self-evaluation and improvement, help industries be more operationally and economically efficient, reduce supply chain reliance and improve our planet.”

Future ESG targets

Regarding the firm’s ESG benchmark targets, the report states the first step towards improving climate impact and responsible consumption will be assessing its carbon footprint. The company will then implement its goals and make adjustments regarding the consumption of resources such as energy, water, waste, and carbon. 

Stratasys will then establish a “scorecard” to help it quantify its footprint based on various measurements, such as per employee or per part. 

The report reveals that in 2020, the firm’s measured emissions generated 13,640 tons of CO2e (equivalent). In 2021, the company installed 589 solar panels at its Israel manufacturing facilities to support its commitment to renewable energy and improve its consumption. The panels are expected to be operational this year, and Stratasys is currently looking at expanding its use of solar panels within its additional facilities. The report also addressed Stratasys’ water management and outlined the firm’s aim to implement water within a more circular fashion across its facilities and products. 

Other ESGs detailed in the report include further demonstrating the feasibility of Stratasys’ ‘factory of the future’ initiative in order to integrate digital and physical logistics to create future supply chains with reduced dependence on carbon-heavy transportation methods, and inviting partners to take part in the firm’s Recycling + Returns program.

Stratasys’ inaugural sustainability report can be read in full here. 

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Featured image shows new rooftop solar installation under construction at Stratasys’ Kiryat Gat Manufacturing installation. Photo via Stratasys.