The companies have leant on SmileDirectClub, resin producer Lavergne and Ford supplier ARaymond to enable the sustainable solution. Once the materials have been recycled, they are being used to produce injection-moulded fuel-line clips installed on Super Duty F-250 trucks.
SmileDirect Club, an oral care company with a fleet of 60 HP 3D printing systems producing more than 40,000 aligners a day, collects and recycles used 3D printed parts and powder for Lavergne to transform them into plastic pellets for injection moulding. ARaymond then uses the pellets to manufacture the fuel-line clips.
Ford and HP say the resulting parts are better for the environment and are produced without compromise in the durability and quality that Ford and its customers demand. The fuel-line clips are said to exhibit better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions, while they are also 7% lighter and produced at 10% less cost.
Working on the project for less than a year, Ford, who has a goal of achieving 100% sustainable materials in its vehicles, has already identified ten other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that could be produced with recycled 3D printing materials.
“Finding new ways to work with sustainable materials, reducing waste and leading the development of the circular economy are passions at Ford,” Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow, Sustainability. “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.”
“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,” added Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer at HP. “Our collaboration with Ford extends the environmental benefits of 3D printing even further, showcasing how we are bringing entirely different industries together to make better use of spent manufacturing materials, enabling a new circular economy.”
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