Adoption of sustainable product development adopted but opportunities exist to boost momentum

Survey Finds Almost 90% of Companies Have Built Sustainability Goals Into Their Product Design, But Other Priorities Continue To Compete For Organizational Focus

MINNEAPOLIS, January 11, 2022– (BUSINESS WIRE) – A recently released report on Sustainability in Product Development revealed how those responsible for sustainability initiatives across multiple industries are prioritizing their efforts and the challenges they face. The report, based on third-party research commissioned by digital manufacturing leader Protolabs, interviewed 200 engineers, product designers, sustainability leaders and business executives to gather insight into their sustainability philosophies, levels of involvement and adjustments needed to make products more sustainable. Interviewees made it clear that sustainability directly influences product development, but focused direction and measurable goals are essential to accelerate progress.

Almost 90% of those surveyed reported notable changes within the company that led to the integration of sustainability into product design and development over the past two years. In addition, almost 80% of those surveyed said that sustainability has a defined role in their business as part of the product development process or integrated into daily programs and activities.

But the push and pull between competing goals for sustainable product development is evident. “We need to come up with innovative designs, but they also need to meet specific government sustainability regulations. And still cover some costs to keep our business running accordingly, ”replied an industrial / medical device engineer in the survey.

Although the focus on sustainable development is not new (nearly 70% of respondents have been involved in sustainable development for more than six years), their the overall attitude towards sustainability remains lukewarm. For example, those interviewed agreed that they were proud to work in their company because of their sustainability initiatives, but they also agreed that these initiatives are often driven by regulations and replaced by tax concerns. Product designers and engineers are only moderately confident in their understanding of how sustainability aligns with overall company strategy, and nearly a third of those surveyed said their company does not have no key performance indicators linked to sustainable development.

Today’s digital capabilities, which played a major role in achieving the Goals, are a way to tackle sustainability priorities: the top three design practices implemented to advance the Goals of sustainable development have been artificial intelligence, design for sustainability (DfS) and electronics integration, all cited by 68% of respondents. Physical actions also played an important role, with half of respondents identifying materials engineering and procurement / procurement as areas that would benefit most from the implementation of sustainable development initiatives. Sustainability practices considered for future implementation include corporate social responsibility (54%), closed-loop product development (47%), and additive manufacturing (40%).

“Sustainability influences every step of product development today, and we have a tremendous opportunity to learn from each other to advance our environmental initiatives. We are delighted to highlight the progress made to date while identifying the opportunities that lie ahead in these key areas, ”said Rob Bodor, President and CEO of Protolabs. “It’s clear that collaboration is the key to success in sustainability, and we look forward to playing a part in this journey. “

Digital manufacturing will continue to serve as a partner in the development of sustainable products. From automated design analysis to on-demand production, learn about Protolabs’ progress in becoming a more sustainable manufacturing partner for its customers here.

About Protolabs
Protolabs is the world’s leading provider of digital manufacturing services. The e-commerce-based company offers injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing and sheet metal fabrication to product developers, engineers and supply chain teams around the world. Protolabs serves its customers using in-house production capabilities that deliver unprecedented speed in tandem with Hubs, a Protolabs company, which serves its customers through its network of premium manufacturing partners. Together, they help businesses bring new ideas to market with the world’s fastest, most comprehensive digital manufacturing service. Visit for more information.

See the source version on


Brent Renneke, 701-741-7292
PR and media strategist
[email protected]

Gary C. Lisi