Ford: Taking a Step Towards 3D Printing
We see it all the time on TV: Grey’s Anatomy – the doctors were taking turns printing organs to save lives. Big Bang Theory – Raj and Howard were having a blast creating little miniature figurines of themselves. The common denominator? A 3D printer. Could this also be the answer to the automotive industry?
Imagine creating car parts at a fraction of the price. Or having a lighter car to help with fuel efficiency. (We can all hope for that these days as the the average cost for gas is sitting around $1.35/L recently!) Or saving oodles of time from ordering special parts that sometimes can take up to weeks or even months to arrive. If this is really the direction of the future, we can all thank Ford for taking the initiative on creating these prototypes.
It may not be much longer until 3D-printed car parts are on the streets. Ford is testing 3D printing large-scale single-piece auto parts, such as spoilers. The company announced they are making the move “for prototyping and future production vehicles.” Ford is using a printer from Stratysys, a 3D printer manufacturer, capable of printing just about any shape and size.
If successful, a breakthrough could be in the works. 3D printed parts would provide “a more efficient, affordable way to create tooling, prototype parts and components for low-volume vehicles such as Ford Performance products, as well as personalized car parts,” Ford said in a press release.
The 3D printer system is being housed at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Mich.
It works by transferring part specifications to the printer’s computer through a design program. Once analyzed, the device prints one layer of material at a time. It gradually stacks layers into the finished product. The machine can run for hours and even days unsupervised since systems are in place to replenish supply material.
For a full description of this article, visit: http://www.autoserviceworld.com/ford-tests-3d-printing/
Let’s see what the future holds for us with 3D printing in the automobile industry!