The research team started adding the currency to the money tray mixing process, but the shredded money clogged the equipment. “We had to learn how to process the material before we could mix it with the plastic,” says Mielewski. “We have also assessed the mechanical properties of the currency-plastic, and from that were able to compare it with other fillers to determine what applications it would be best suited for.” The result of the research was an injection molded part that manufactures in the same amount of time as the traditional coin tray – approximately 45 seconds to one minute.
The quest for sustainable production
Currently Ford is looking for a sustainable source of recycled money to produce enough material for 200,000 new Ford vehicles. “Although we are getting our money samples for free, actually putting this tray into our production lines is a different story,” says Mielewski. “We will need to find a sustainable source of material to use for our production vehicles.” Mielewski’s focus this year is to develop more “green,”natural Elliott Puzzle Ad_Layout 1 8/10/12 12:11 PM Page 1 fiber reinforcements that won’t compromise part durability.
“Even though we’re focused on bio products,” says Mielewski, “lightweighting is a critical issue facing auto industry. We’re going to see a lot of steel component replacement with plastic components, and it’s likely going to be with carbon fiber reinforcement.”
The U.S. shreds over $6 billion in printed cash every year. Currently thousands of pounds are packaged and shipped to landfills. Reducing money waste is a long-standing global problem and Ford isn’t alone in its endeavor to reduce printed waste. Several centralized banks around the world are starting to use retired bank notes in interesting ways to limit landfill waste. The Australian Federal Reserve replaced all of its paper bank notes with polymer substrates, which can be granulated and recycled into new plastic products like trash bins. The Reserve Bank of India is promoting a new handmade paper industry that uses recycled money to make products like manila file folders.