Ford is the latest car maker to begin experimenting with 3D printing. By experimenting, we mean Ford’s 3D printer is the size of a room. They are the first car marker to use the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. You can watch this massive printer in action at the bottom of the page.
Ford announced their 3D printing plans earlier this month. The company understands there are many benefits of 3D printing car parts. They hope to take full advantage of their massive 3d printer for customization. Ford’s 3d printer is located at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
The company knows that 3D printing is the next big manufacturing tool. Each year the technology is advancing, getting cheaper, and able to deliver more consistently. Ford sees an opportunity, to 3D print car parts, to be more efficient and cost effective.
Ford plans to use this technology for creating tools, and prototyping car parts and components. The customization will be key to advancing performance parts for low-volume production models, such as the Ford Performance products. As well, the company sees a possibility to create personalized car parts for everyday customers.
Ellen Lee, Ford technical leader, additive manufacturing research said, “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 to help steer development of large-scale printing for automotive applications and requirements.”
This isn’t the first time we have seen Stratasys partner with an automaker. Just last month, news broke about the company partnering with Team Penske to assist with the manufacturing processes.
It seems everyday we hear about an automaker wanting to get their hands on 3D printing technology. Of course, its hard not to jump on the bandwagon and adopt the technology once you understand how it can help. Ford believes it has the ability to create lighter car parts, which will lead to more fuel efficient vehicles. For example Ford says a 3D printed spoiler could be about half the weight of a cast metal spoiler.
Also, Ford knows 3D printing is much more cost effective. Especially, in terms of customized parts. Ford’s 3D printer will let them create more high-performance prototypes for race cars. The easy production method for low-volume parts will save them a lot of money compared to traditional manufacturing methods.
As the 3D printing industry continues to grow we will surely see more and more automakers turning towards this technology. According to Global Industry Analysts, the market for 3D printing will be in the ballpark of $9.6 billion by 2020. We are witnessing the next big industrial revolution with 3D printing. Only time will tell before companies start 3D printing entire cars.
News via: Ford
Photo credits: Ford