Earth Day - Is SLA bad for the environment?

With numerous companies (Formlabs, Carbon, etc) touting SLA 3D printing as a production-ready technology, I’ve been wondering a lot about the environmental implications of this.
Since today is Earth Day, I thought now is as good a time as ever to post my thoughts.

I’m concerned about the end-of-life situation for photopolymer 3D printed parts. To the best of my understanding, cross linking photopolymers such as those used by Formlabs are neither biodegradable nor recyclable. Their final destination will be a landfill where they take millennia to degrade.

Is this responsible? With Formlabs highlighting Gillette’s Razor Maker as a glimpse of the future of 3D printing, I’d love to hear from Formlabs or Gillette about how using SLA directly for consumer products is beneficial to the environment.


Well your statement is a bit mute since you do state that it will degrade, what you don’t seem to understand is the earth has been changing for a very long time and will continue to do so. In a millennia this world will be totally different, and not by any man made cause. Mother nature will find a way as it has done for a billion years.

Do you realize that there was higher levels of C/O gas when the dinosaurs where here then we have now?

I think that FormLabs and Gillette are fully aware of the effects and do all they can at this point in time, And with them being private company’s you sound a bit demanding for an answer,

If you have a concern of the life long effects of SLA, don’t by the product.

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Ignoring the climate change deniers, yes SLA parts aren’t particularly environment-friendly in the sense that they are not bio-degradable and there are no easy way to recycle them.

That being said the number of SLA parts in the world is insignificant compared to other sources of pollution so really I would argue that if one wants to put some amount of energy fighting for climate change they’ll make a bigger difference fighting something else.

It is also important to not mix all 3D printing technologies. Only the ones based on UV-curable resins (currently, mostly methacrylates afaik) have trouble with recycling, as FDM and SLS both use thermoplastics so they are by definition somewhat recyclable.


Most post industrial, human manufacturing processes are “bad” for the environment. Why, because humans as a whole, are just starting to seriously think about the issue, and of course the problem is compounded by morons like our president. So unless a primary part of the SLA process equation, was a concern for the environment, from begining to end, it is having a negative impact. I think in my opinion, like most companies today the primary variable in Gillets operating equation, is profit, and they are doing all they can to maximize that. Protecting the environment is if any thing just a brand embelishment. I will say though that all is as it must be here, we are developing , learning, changing, always seeking to be headed toward improvment.

I have just stumbled upon this, thought I’d drop it here :

The fact that they give no information on the product except to call it bio resin, and say its “pla based” pretty much tells you every thing you need to know about this company and their product ,in my opinion. If I were a manufacturer of a true environmentally friendly resin, I would have more than just six words about the eco. benefits my product. So either they have the worst marketing dept. possible or the product is BS, probably the latter.

It’s bio-based, so no guarantee it’s less bad for the environment or bio-degradable. Just that they took another source for the raw material.

Just contacted them, it’s very expensive as well. They ask almost the same price as formlabs resins and the resin is not suitable for SLA, only DLP and LCD.

As are most natural minerals and metals, though both can be subject to chemical degradation. From what I understand most plastics will rapidly, on a geological time scale, abrade to clay-sized particles. Whether these particles are reactive, and in what circumstances they could be, nobody seems to know.

From what I understand, the problem is that plastic particles are too inert, that they will accumulate in biological tissue and cause all sorts of problems by just sitting there - the finer, the more problems, as they will be able to enter more deeply into tissue - kind of like the ultra fine particles that not only get into the lungs, but also into the bloodstream, and from there into the brain…

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