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Why should you conduct a 3D environmental evaluation?

Author Jukka Mikkonen
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Product design that takes the environment into consideration limits environmental effects and creates responsible business. The success of products is increasingly relying on including a lifecycle evaluation in the design processes. 

In a 3D environmental evaluation, the whole life cycle of a product is examined in the same way as in a lifecycle assessment (LCA), from raw material production, through production, distribution, and use all the way to discarding and recycling. Four main environmental impact factors are considered through the product’s whole life cycle: carbon footprint, emissions causing acidification, eutrophication of water, and energy consumption.

A 3D environmental evaluation concentrates on calculating material and production expenses, as well as recognising and calculating the environmental burden of energy consumption, raw materials, waste and emissions produced. It also includes an evaluation of the environmental effects of these environmental burdens, and an evaluation of the solutions available to decrease the environmental effects and expenses. The service can be applied to the planning phase, but also to calculating, evaluating and developing an existing product.

For the calculation of the environmental burden and material expenses, the SolidWorks Sustainability 3D design program is used. Its computation is based on the utilisation of the 3D information of the product and information of its life cycle. The programme uses PE International’s GaBi 4 application and the international LCA database. It relies on the international LCA standard ISO 14040/44.

Working with the 3D design programme in the design process, enables real time computation and comparison of the environmental burden of the product’s different features and life cycle stages, and an evaluation of the environmental effects. During the design process, the continuously updated information about material expenses is also available, and it can be reinforced with calculation of production expenses. The starting point in a 3D environmental evaluation is the 3D information available about the product.

A 3D environmental evaluation offers clear information about the environmental effects of a product being designed or an existing product. It also offers information about implementation methods that have fewer environmental effects and are less expensive..

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The carbon footprint of the tablet stand included in the ESCflow food waste service was diminished by 58%, and production cost by 47% by carrying out a 3D environmental evaluation during the design process..

Why do you need a 3D environmental evaluation?

  • Customers want more environmentally friendly products.
  • Environmentally friendly product design is a strategy that leads to successful business.
  • It helps to transform a new and possibly uncomfortable challenge for the business, into a more easily executed task.
  • Produces successful product concepts when integrated into design processes.
  • Helps to see the product in a new light and to create product innovations.
  • Guides designers to create solutions where material efficiency decreases product expenses and increases price competitiveness.
  • It is fast to implement and easy to understand.
  • It communicates efficiently with clear reports, graphics, and illustrative materials.
  • Decreases the harmful effects of a product on the environment.

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Jukka Mikkonen

B.I.D. (Industrial Design) - Jukka Mikkonen has worked as an industrial designer and industrial design manager for 20 years. During his career he has participated in over one hundred industrial design and product development projects in design and management roles. Mikkonen joined Elomatic in 2011 at works at the Elomatic Helsinki office where he is the Industrial Design Manager of the product development department.

Intelligent Engineering

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