Ford and HP are looking to make 3D printing technology more sustainable. The giants of industry are teaming up to reuse spent 3D printing parts and powders for vehicle parts, minimizing waste in the process.
Ford and HP are testing the process by making injection-molded fuel-line clips for the Ford F-250 Super Duty. According to Ford, the recycled parts are lighter, less expensive, and more resistant that conventional fuel-line clips. Because the project has panned out successfully so far, Ford is looking to bring its innovation to as many as 10 new vehicles.
A dynamically controlled surface with moving metal platforms can cut material usage in 3D printing by reducing the need for “wasteful” printed supports, its developers have said.
Printing times could also be shortened thanks to the new technique, said the researchers from the University of Southern California (USC).
As conventional 3D printers create custom objects layer-by-layer, they often need to print supports to balance the product. These supports are manually removed after printing, which requires finishing by hand and can result in shape inaccuracies or surface roughness. The materials the supports are made from often cannot be reused, so they are discarded and contribute to the growing problem of 3D-printed waste material.
The push toward going all-in on EVs creates a natural pivot point to leverage industrial 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing.
In the past year, we’ve seen a drastic shift across the automotive industry and among consumers with a growing appetite for electric vehicles.
General Motors, Ford and other OEMs have made recent announcements signaling they’re pursuing EVs more heavily. President Biden signed an executive order requiring the replacement of the entire fleet of federal vehicles, about 645,000 cars, trucks, and vans, with U.S.-made electrics.
This push toward going all-in on EVs creates a natural pivot point to leverage industrial 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM). Here’s why:
Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab has successfully conducted a flight test that has shown how additive manufacturing can be used to repair battlefield damage on its Gripen fighters.
The test flight, which took place at Saab’s facilities in Linköping, Sweden on March 19 marks the first time an exterior 3D-printed part has been flown on a Gripen, rather than internal 3D-printed components.
The Gripen was fitted with a replacement hatch that had been 3D-printed using additive manufacturing, using a nylon polymer called PA2200.
The project is a step towards 3D-printed spares being used for rapid repairs to fighter aircraft that have sustained damage while deployed on remote operations, thereby gaining a vital time-saving advantage, said Saab.
Ford teamed up with HP to reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts, thus closing a supply chain loop and turning them into injection-molded vehicle parts. The recycled materials are being used to manufacture injection-molded fuel-line clips installed first on Super Duty F-250 trucks. The parts have better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions, are 7% lighter and cost 10% less. The Ford research team has identified 10 other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that could benefit from this innovative use of material and are migrating it to future models.
Sustainability is a priority for both companies, which, through joint exploration, led to this unlikely, earth-friendly solution. The resulting injection-molded parts are better for the environment with no compromise in the durability and quality standards Ford and its customers demand.
“Finding new ways to work with sustainable materials, reducing waste and leading the development of the circular economy are passions at Ford,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow, Sustainability.
Industry leaders discuss biggest obstacles facing the additive manufacturing space.
As the first two parts of this virtual roundtable discussed, 2020 was a milestone year for additive manufacturing and the industry has a solid future ahead. Of course, part of ensuring that the anticipated future becomes a reality rests with understanding the biggest challenges they will face along the way.
Read on to hear what industry leaders identify as the biggest remaining obstacles.
With blade diameter measuring more than two football fields, GE Renewables’ Haliade-X turbines are already the largest and most powerful in the world, capable of generating as much as 14 MW of energy. The ability to 3D print the turbine’s concrete base on-site, for direct transportation into the final at-sea location, will enable even larger systems to be built and deployed.
This approach is expected to enable the production of much taller wind turbines because turbine producers will not be hindered by transport limitations—today, the width of the base cannot exceed 4.5 meters for transportation reasons, which limits the height of the turbine. By increasing the height, the generation of power per turbine can also be increased substantially: for instance, a 5 MW turbine measuring 80 meters generates about 15.1 GWh a year. The same turbine measuring 160 meters would generate 20.2 GWh per year, an increase of 33%. How that scale is expected to become even greater, with new turbines reaching heights of 260 meters and even more.
WHAM, the Wärtsilä Hub for Additive Manufacturing, is now using 3D printing to create a critical metal component for Wärtsilä engines that has been successfully tested at full output. Work has been done in partnership with global engineering company Etteplan, and the success of the testing clearly demonstrates that 3D printing is ready for a wider range of applications in the marine industry.
“We were confident enough to put the part in the engine and the results spoke for themselves – the engine always tells the truth,” said Andreas Hjort, General Manager, Smart Design. “The design freedom of 3D printing is opening up a number of opportunities to add value, in terms of both new products and improving the performance of existing ones.”
As the additive manufacturing company 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing prepares for production, it has one critical advantage over the competition: a standalone CNC machine shop.
In 2013, additive manufacturing (AM) was having its moment. The possibilities of the technology for industrial production were just then becoming apparent to manufacturing at large. Indeed, at that time, the view of AM was soaring from lofty media hype into a stratosphere of impossible promises. Bob Markley was having a moment of his own at that time. He had just finished a 10-year stretch as an engineer for an Indy 500 racing team before moving on to work for Rolls Royce and then General Motors, the latter of which was consolidating its Indiana workforce to Pontiac, Michigan. Unable to relocate his family from their Indiana home, the then-31-year-old Mr. Markley wrote up a business plan centered around AM — a technology he’d barely used, but one that appealed to the experimental engineering style he’d developed through racing.
Thus, 2013 proved to be the year that Mr. Markley went all-in on AM, launching 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing in a 1,800-square-foot facility outside of Indianapolis. After opening for business, he quickly partnered with 3D Systems and brought in the company’s ProX 200 — a laser powder-bed fusion machine he still refers to today as his workhorse. Sustained financially by his original loan and a small but growing base of customers, Mr. Markley purchased a second ProX 200, followed by a 300 model and later a 320 that he beta tested for the company.
In a recent webinar, Chris Billings, the co-founder of Duncan Machine Products (DMP), which is a partner with my company, shared a parable that cut straight to a hurdle faced by people in their everyday lives and teams within businesses, both small and large. The story gives body to a nebulous force that holds us back, keeps us from advancing and dooms us to achieve the same results.
The often unrecognized force is a strong headwind at best, and a brick wall at worst, when change offers advantages. In simple terms, this obstacle is tradition.
Chris shared the “Grandma’s Ham” story to illustrate the paradigm he instills in his precision machine shop. Paraphrasing Zig Ziglar’s words from his book See You at the Top, Chris illustrated the human aspect of the challenge to change, to innovate, to do things differently.