26 March 2021
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Ford and HP collaborate to transform 3D printing waste into fuel clips

US car manufacturer Ford has collaborated with HP to reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts, turning them into injection molded vehicle parts – which they claim is an industry first.

The recycled materials are being used to manufacture injection-moulded fuel-line clips installed first on the vehicle OEM’s 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 could benefit from this innovative use of material and are migrating it to future models.

Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow, sustainability, said: “Many companies are finding great uses for 3D printing technologies, but, together with HP, we’re the first to find a high-value application for waste powder that likely would have gone to landfill, transforming it into functional and durable auto parts.”

Ford uses HP’s 3D printing technology at the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre. It is developing new applications and utilising a multitude of different processes and materials for 3D printing, including filaments, sand, powders and liquid vat polymerization. The company already employs 3D printing for a variety of low-volume commercial vehicle parts, as well as fixtures used by assembly line workers use, saving production time and enhancing quality.

Three other companies helped Ford and HP make the project outcome possible. SmileDirectClub, an oral care company with a medtech platform for straightening teeth, operates the largest facility of HP 3D printing systems in the US. The company’s fleet of more than 60 HP 3D printers enables the production of more than 40,000 aligners a day. Used 3D printed parts are collected and recycled with HP to increase volume for Ford. Resin producer Lavergne, a longtime recycling partner of HP, transforms those moulds and discarded powder from Ford’s HP 3D printers into high-quality 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.

Author
FAST magazine

Related Companies

Ford Motor Co Ltd
HP Inc UK Ltd

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