Friday, July 10, 2015

Ford Utilizes 3D-Printing for Prototypes

Ford is now utilizing the advances in 3D-printing technology, while saving millions and creating higher quality products. The innovation of 3D-printing is now contributing to the innovation of vehicle design and production. Engineers now have the ability to, more freely, experiment with prototypes to maximize quality, reduce time, and produce at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

Science fiction may seem like the only place that something like 3D-printing can exist. Now 3D-printing is becoming an increasingly viable reality. The process involves printing plastic, sand, or various other materials in thin layers. As the printing takes place, the thin layers are stacked on top of each other, until a full three dimensional object is made. Ford is utilizing this technology to shave off months of prototype development time in various parts, including intake manifolds and cylinder heads.

Engineers at Ford are 3D-printing parts that represent production parts. As a result, engineers have more freedom to experiment with prototypes. For certain parts, prototypes take multiple months, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create using traditional methods. Now, with 3D-printing, the same prototypes can be produced in a matter of days and cost only a few thousand dollars. What this means  for you, is even higher quality products. Now that engineers have an increased ability to optimize prototypes, production parts will be of higher quality. Production parts also have the opportunity to become lighter because of this optimization, which means better fuel economy for you.

Ford is taking a revolutionary step toward the future. The implementation of 3D-printing is already making strides toward increasingly optimized vehicles. Though the process isn't quick enough for production, it has shown major benefits for prototypes. One of the next steps is experimenting with metal printing. If 3D-printing has come this far, who know's what Ford will accomplish in the future? Ford is no stranger to innovation, and 3D-printing is showing major opportunities for the future of vehicle production.