The US automaker is keen on embracing all the latest technologies in its quest to become a true mobility provider, and its Ford Performance unit is no stranger to the strategy.
This is why the company is allowing the Ford Performance unit to explore the use of 3D printing technology to craft tools, prototype parts and components for low-volume production vehicles. The automaker now has a new Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn and has started exploring if using such futuristic techniques might provide a breakthrough in vehicle manufacturing by delivering a more affordable way of crafting intricate components. Ford uses as an example a 3D-printed spoiler which has the potential to weigh half compared to a cast metal counterpart, thus making the car a bit more fuel efficient.
In addition, the technology could see fitting use when specialized race car components as well as personalized parts are needed for production cars. Another key aspect of 3D printing is the fact that complex prototype parts can be manufactured in days, rather than go through the classic process of having engineers design a computer model and then wait months for the necessary tooling to be produced in order to fabricate the component. “With Infinite Build technology, we can print large tools, fixtures and components, making us more nimble in design iterations. We’re excited to have early access to Stratasys’ new technology,” commented Ford technical leader of additive manufacturing research Ellen Lee.