Environmental impacts of rapid prototyping: An overview of research to date

Aleksandra Drizo*, Joseph Pegna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - To provide a comprehensive state of the art review of environmental impact assessment (EIA) of existing rapid prototyping (RP) and rapid tooling (RT), and identify prospective research needs. Design/methodology/approach - The sparse literature on the EIA of RP and RT is balanced by that of the comparatively mature field of industrial ecology (IE). Hence, the review emphasizes portable IE measurement and evaluations methods. As RP and RT can also be viewed as design tools and mass customization manufacturing, other EIA may be needed. Findings - The scarcity of research to date combined with rapid technological advances leaves a large number of unresolved issues. In addition, the special character of RP and RT, as design and manufacturing enablers implies that future research is needed. Research limitations/implications - This review is drawn from a technology in rapid evolution. Hence, unresolved issues focus on technologies that already are on the market and the research needs are formulated in terms of state of the art process research. Practical implications - As technological advances multiply, so does the number of unresolved environmental problems. The review of unresolved issues points to a pressing need to assess the consequences of RP and RT while identified research needs point the way to anticipated areas where further assessment methods will be needed. Originality/value - This paper intends to raise awareness about the potential environmental impacts from RP and RT, by presenting the problems associated with current methods for measuring environmental effects and discussing some of the most urgent unresolved issues, specifically with respect to materials. Indirect effects of other uses of RP and RT are discussed only briefly for lack of available data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalRapid Prototyping Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2006


  • Environmental management
  • Rapid prototypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental impacts of rapid prototyping: An overview of research to date'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this