Ford manufactures new vehicle components from recycled 3D printing powders

One of the factors currently pushing companies to use additive manufacturing is its lower ecological footprint; 3D printing processes enable parts to be designed using not only an absolute minimum of materials but also recycled and recyclable materials. An increasing number of applications are adopting the principles of the circular economy, with waste being upcycled to produce a new object. This is precisely what Kimya offers through its range of biosourced materials. Other operators have made this ecological issue one of their main priorities, such as HP and Ford in the context of their latest collaboration.

The two US companies have joined forces to convert 3D printed parts and used plastic powders into injection molded automotive components. It is a world’s first in the sector which is more used to the opposite scenario: namely that of recycling traditionally designed parts into 3D printed parts. According to the two companies, the molded parts are more environmentally friendly at the same time as being lighter and cheaper. They specify that they have designed fuel line clamps to be fitted to Super Duty F-250 trucks.


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Injection molded fuel line clamps (photo credits: Ford)



Debbie Mielewski, Technical Fellow at Ford, explains: “Numerous companies are finding excellent applications for 3D printing technologies but, with HP, we are the first to find a high added value application for powders which would probably have ended up in landfill, transforming them into functional and durable vehicle parts.”

The automotive manufacturer has been proficient in additive manufacturing for a number of years now, having invested in multiple processes such as the HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. With this company, it has been able to invent a way of recycling polyamide powder and obsolete 3D printed parts, establishing a means of their being reused to produce vehicle components. These fuel line clamps are 7% lighter, offer higher resistance against chemicals and humidity and are 10% cheaper to produce.


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The parts are lighter and cheaper (photo credits: Ford)



Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainable Development & Social Impact Officer at HP, continues: “We obtain more sustainable manufacturing processes with 3D, but always strive to achieve more, by moving our industry forward in order to find new ways of reducing, reusing and recycling powders and parts. Our collaboration with Ford breaks new ground for the environmental benefits of 3D printing, demonstrating how we are bringing together two entirely different industries to optimize the exploitation of used production materials, creating a new circular economy.”

Ultimately, the automotive manufacturer is targeting 100% use of sustainable materials in vehicle production. An ambitious project that may well inspire other companies in the sector!