Ford recycling HP 3D printer powder waste into auto components

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Dearborn, Michigan – Ford is working with HP to recycle spent spending 3D printed powders and parts, closes the cycle and processes them into injection-molded vehicle parts.

Sustainability is a priority for both companies, which through joint explorations has resulted in this unlikely, environmentally friendly solution. The resulting injection molded parts are more environmentally friendly without compromising durability or quality standards.

The recycled materials are used to make injection molded fuel line clips that were first installed on 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 more fuel line clamps on existing vehicles that could benefit from this powder recycling.

“Finding new ways to use sustainable materials, reduce waste and drive the development of the circular economy are Ford passions,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford Technical Fellow, Sustainability. “Many companies are Find great uses for 3D printing technologies, but together with HP we are the first to find a high quality application for powder waste that would likely have ended up in landfills to make functional and durable auto parts. ”

Ford Motor Co.

Fuel line clips for Ford F-250 pickups use plastics recycled from HP 3D printers.

HP 3D printers are already designed to be efficient, with systems and structures that minimize the excess material they create and reuse a greater percentage of the materials put into them. Working with Ford, which uses HP’s 3D printing technology in the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, the team developed this no-waste solution.

“With 3D you get more sustainable manufacturing processes, but we always strive to do more and move our industry forward to find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle powders and parts,” said Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer, HP. “Our collaboration with Ford expands the environmental benefits of 3D printing even further and shows how we are bringing together very different industries to make better use of used manufacturing materials and enable a new circular economy.”

Ford develops new applications and uses multiple processes and Materials for 3D printingincluding filaments, sand, powders, and liquid kettle polymerization. The Company is already using 3D printing for a wide variety of low-volume commercial vehicle parts and fixtures used by assembly line workers, saving time and improving quality.

“One of the keys to achieving our sustainability goals and solving society’s broader problems is working with other like-minded companies – we can’t do it alone,” said Mielewski. “With HP we have defined the waste problem, solved technical challenges and found a solution in less than a year that we are all proud of.”

Three other companies helped Ford and HP with the project:

  • SmileDirectClub, the oral care company with a medtech platform for straightening teeth, operates the largest facility of HP 3D printing systems in the United States. The company’s fleet of more than 60 HP 3D printers produces more than 40,000 aligners daily. The resulting used 3D printed parts are collected and recycled with HP to add volume for Ford.
  • Lavergne, the resin maker, is a long-time HP recycling partner that turns molds and discarded powders from Ford’s HP 3D printers into high quality recycled plastic pellets suitable for injection molding.
  • ARaymond develops, designs and manufactures assembly systems.