In an industry first move, Ford Motor has teamed up with tech company HP to innovatively reuse spent 3D printing waste such as powders and parts by turning them into injection molded automotive parts.
The automaker says that the injection molded vehicle parts are environment-friendly with no compromise in its durability and standard of quality. They have better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions and are 7% lighter while also costing 10% less.
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Parts such as fuel-line clips made from 3D printing waste have been installed first on Ford's Super Duty F-250 trucks. The company's research team has further identified 10 other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that could benefit from this innovative use of material. "Finding new ways to work with sustainable materials, reducing waste and leading the development of the circular economy are passions at Ford," says Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow - Sustainability.
Ford uses HP's 3D printing technology at its Advanced Manufacturing Center and the latest innovation helps produce zero waste, both the companies claim. Currently, Ford uses 3D printing for various low-volume commercial vehicle parts as well as fixtures used by assembly line workers that helps save time and also enhances quality. The automaker is further developing new applications and utilizing different materials for 3D printing such as filaments, sand, powders and liquid vat polymerization. It has a companywide goal to achieve 100% sustainable materials in its vehicles.
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HP says that its 3D printers are already designed for high efficiency, with systems and structures to reuse a greater percentage of the materials put into them. "You get more sustainable manufacturing processes with 3D, but we are always striving to do more, driving our industry forward to find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle powders and parts," says Ellen Jackowski, chief sustainability and social impact officer, HP.