Ford sees future in recycling car-modelling clay
Though modeling clay is a favourite of many children, who can craft, re-craft and recycle the pliable stuff over many years, Ford is taking after the practice as the company targets to recycle about 2,250 kilograms of clay every year.
Employing a similar idea to model future vehicles: craft, re-craft and then recycle, Ford said nothing beats building a full-size clay model of a vehicle despite the use of digital technology.
“These clay models remain an important part of Ford’s creative design process, helping designers spot issues in both the interior and exterior of a vehicle,” Ford said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that the company uses up to 90 tons of clay every year to construct full-size vehicle models. None of this material would be reused in the past, but during the last five years the company has used a proprietary machine to recycle more than 9,000 kilograms of clay and keep it out of landfills, the company said.
“We are constantly being influenced by new technologies, but when we want to view physical properties early in the process, we still turn to clay,” Modelling Manager at Ford’s Truck Studio in Dearborn, Michigan, Lloyd VandenBrink said., adding, “When a design is still fluid, clay allows immediate reviews and feedback so necessary for working in a collaborative atmosphere.”
Ford said most of the clay the comapny recycles comes from the milling process, during which designers use a machine to help them shape the silhouette of a vehicle.
Ford explained, “Once gathered, these clay chips are placed in the recycling machine – designed to process only Ford’s unique clay material and nothing else. The machine compresses and churns the clay with multiple blades, sucking all the air out of the material. The clay is then passed through a nozzle that’s heated just enough to churn it out with the proper consistency so that it can be reused.”