To make their manufacturing process more sustainable, automobile manufacturing giant Ford Motor Company has partnered with HP to find a way to recycle used materials from 3D printers into fuel-line clips for automobiles. The company that they’re sourcing these used materials from will put a smile on your face—if they haven’t already done so.
SmileDirectClub provides direct-to-consumer invisible teeth alignment molds and is now working with HP and Ford to repurpose the waste that comes from printing over 40,000 aligners daily. The company operates more than 60 HP printers, making it HP’s largest 3D printing facility in the United States. When it’s finished making new aligners, HP collects the molds and the waste powder that is generated from the printing process and would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Lavergne, their recycling partner, then turns the waste into plastic pellets before sending them to ARaymond, an automotive parts maker that incorporates injection molding to produce the new fuel-line clips.
Though it is admirable of Ford to adjust its manufacturing process so that it’s more eco-friendly, the company does reap other benefits. The recycled materials cost ten percent less and are seven percent lighter than conventional fuel clips. Plus, they’re more resistant to moisture and chemicals. For now, the company is installing them on Super Duty F-250 trucks, however, it has plans to use this approach for more vehicles in the future.