3D printing and recycling! In a single piece!
By Gary S. Vasilash
For some reason, 3D printing seems to be wizardly popular. This is not to say that it isn’t an exceedingly interesting way that things can be produced, even geometries that couldn’t otherwise be at all produced, but there are some processes that are simply more effective, efficient and economical, especially when it comes to things needed at automotive volumes.
Like, for example, injection molding.
Which is predicated on taking a resin that flows and injecting it into a mold, where it hardens and becomes a part.
Ford announced, “Ford and HP Collaborate to Transform 3D Waste into Auto Parts, an Industry First.”
Which it probably is.
It not like there has been such a volume of 3D printed parts being made in auto that there is a whole lot of waste that can be turned into much.
But there is some powder used in 3D printing that doesn’t become a part. There are some portions of parts (e.g., supports) that are printed then eliminated from the final part.
Ford is collecting things like that.
But there is another waste stream: SmileDirectClub, which produces more than 40,000 teeth aligners per day on its more than 60 HP 3D printers.
The waste from the various operations is being collected by a company named Lavergne, which turns them into high-quality plastic pellets.
Which are then used to injection mold fuel-line clips for the Super Duty F-250 truck by supplier ARaymond.
This is a good thing.
But somehow the tying this to the magic of 3D printing is a far reach.