HILOS publishes the first environmental assessment of 3D printed shoes

HILOS work with Yale University shows reduced carbon (-48%) and water consumption (-99%) compared to traditional manufacturing, saving 2,000 gallons of water and over 20 carbon pounds per pair

PORTLAND, Oregon – March 9, 2022 – (Newswire.com)

Today, HILOS publishes the first environmental assessment of 3D printed shoes. Working with a team from Yale University, BASF, and AMT, HILOS evaluated its 3D printed shoemaking technology as an alternative to traditional industrial shoemaking.

Key results showed a 48% reduction in carbon and a 99% reduction in water consumption compared to traditional manufacturing, saving nearly 2,000 gallons of water and over 20 pounds of CO2e per pair.

As the fashion industry strives to meet its net zero commitments by 2030, this case study provides practical technologies that can be adopted to immediately lighten the industry’s footprint.

Is circularity enough?

Prior to the study, HILOS predicted that recycling products through its reverse supply chain would have a major impact on overall emissions. While circularity reduced carbon emissions by 7.25%, this implied a 100% product return rate. The actual impact would likely be much less.

This is largely due to the energy required to reprocess the material for a second life. If these recycling processes had been carbon neutral, product circularity could reduce carbon emissions (in the case of HILOS) by up to 22%.

The conclusion? Increasing the efficiency of material renewal is key to realizing the full potential of product circularity.

What mattered most?

Product design has had by far the greatest impact on material waste. A typical shoe may consist of 65 discrete parts assembled in 360 steps. In contrast, the Emmett line from HILOS is made up of five pieces assembled in 12 steps.

In total, the reduction in parts and materials accounted for a 29% drop in carbon emissions. This, combined with on-demand production, or only manufacturing products that would actually be sold, had the most dramatic carbon reduction impact, jointly reducing carbon by 43%. The key takeaway: the right design and application of 3D printing is essential for the global reduction of carbon emissions.

put it all together

This means circularity is only part of the equation. Even though everything we make today has been returned and 100% recycled, manufacturing is still a wasteful and resource-intensive process. Brands overproduce. In clothing, this sometimes means earning up to 35% more than necessary. Industry can avoid creating and recycling shoes no one needs by only manufacturing on demand after a customer makes a purchase.

Access full case study here.

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HILOS publishes the first environmental assessment of 3D printed shoes

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