In a first for recycled materials in the auto industry, Ford has teamed up with HP to turn 3D printer waste, powders and parts, into injection molded vehicle parts.
The recycled materials are being used to manufacture injection-molded fuel-line clips installed first on Super Duty F-250 trucks. The parts have better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions, are 7% lighter and cost 10% less. The Ford research team has identified 10 other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that can use the material and are migrating it to future models.
“We’re the first company to find a high-value application for waste powder that likely would have gone to landfill, transforming it into functional and durable auto parts,” says Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow, sustainability
Ford uses HP’s 3D printing technology at the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, where the team created this solution that produces zero waste.
“You get more sustainable manufacturing processes with 3D,” says Ellen Jackowski, chief sustainability and social impact officer, HP. She says the partnership with Ford extends the environmental benefits of 3D printing even further, bringing entirely different industries together to make better use of spent manufacturing materials.
How it works
Other companies are involved in the Ford project:
—SmileDirectClub, which operates the largest facility of HP 3D printing systems in the US, is collecting and recycling used 3D printed parts with HP to increase volume for Ford.
—Resin producer Lavergne transforms those molds and discarded powder from Ford’s HP 3D printers into recycled plastic pellets, suitable for injection molding.
—The pellets are then molded into fuel-line clips by Ford supplier ARaymond, who designs, engineers and manufactures assembly systems.