From a sustainability perspective, one of the advantages of 3D printing is that it creates less waste than traditional subtractive manufacturing. But even if you take away fancy and old prototypes, you still get by-products like plastic spools that can land in landfills. That makes a current development from Ford interesting. With the help of HP and three other companies, the automaker found a way to reuse used 3D printed powders and parts to make injection molded vehicle parts.
The companies claim the breakthrough is a first for the automotive industry. In addition, Ford is already using this technique to make fuel line clips for its F-250 trucks. The company says the resulting clips are seven percent lighter and cost 10 percent less than their traditional counterparts. They are just as durable and at the same time more resistant to chemicals and moisture.
A single zero-waste component in a fossil fuel eater like the F-250 won’t avert the impending climate crisis, but it’s a step in the right direction. And Ford plans to use the technology to make fuel line clips for 10 other vehicles in its current lineup. Equally important, the company is spending $ 22 billion on developing electric vehicles, including a zero-emission version of its popular F-150.