From a sustainability perspective, one of the advantages of 3D printing is that it can produce less waste than traditional subtractive manufacturing. But even if you take away failed and old prototypes, you still get byproducts like plastic spools that can end up in landfills. That's what makes a recent development from Ford interesting. With help from HP and three other companies, the automaker found a way to reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts to create injection molded vehicle parts.
The companies claim the breakthrough is a first for the automotive industry. What's more, Ford is already using the technique to produce fuel-line clips for its F-250 trucks. The company says the resulting clips are seven percent lighter and costs 10 percent less to make than their conventional counterparts. They're also just as durable while being more resistant to chemicals and moisture.
A single zero-waste component in a fossil fuel guzzler like the F-250 won't avert the impending climate crisis, but it is a step in the right direction. And Ford says it's looking into using the technology to make fuel-line clips for 10 other vehicles in its current lineup. Just as importantly, the company is spending $22 billion on developing EVs, including a zero-emissions version of its popular F-150.