This week's Product Story showcases Ford Motor Company's use of Metal 3D Printing to Produce New Components Rapidly.
Ever since Ford opened in 1903, they’ve been innovation leaders in the auto manufacturing industry. Fast-forward to modern-day, they’re constantly brainstorming new ideas and ways to continue being the leader. Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering Organization is responsible for developing new technologies and working with partners to bring those technologies to Ford Motor Company. Thanks to the Desktop Metal Studio+, their innovation has greatly improved.
In an effort to keep up with the fast-moving times, Ford's automotive industry struggled with producing vehicles efficiently and affordably. Personalized car parts became super expensive and they did not have the appropriate tools to assemble them as their weight became too heavy for a person to carry. The car design process took weeks to complete, so Ford had to find a solution to beat out other competitors. With the addition of the Advanced Manufacturing Center at Ford, they can be the leading manufacturer using 3D printed parts to produce lighter-weight, less expensive and more fuel-efficient vehicles while shortening their prototype process to days.
Outcome of Using the Desktop Metal Studio+
Ford is a pioneer partner of the Desktop Metal Studio+ printer. Building on that innovation, Ford has advanced 3D printing methods like managing technology, which opens up the possibility to 3D print at much higher speeds and a much larger scale.
Later this year, Ford is bringing a new GT 500 to market which will include two 3D printed brackets that hold the brake line. With this addition, it will reduce costs significantly while increasing the car's safety feature.
In another example, for a variant of the F150 Raptor, Ford 3D printed a manifold that could not be designed easily through traditional manufacturing. The manifold is a web-like feature that is light-weight and requires no tools to build. Additive manufacturing on the Desktop Metal Studio+ improved Ford's innovation process because they can bring cars to market in less than a week and allow for metal spare parts that need to be replaced on older vehicles to be updated quickly.
The "Factory of the Future"
Ford is looking at many ways to integrate 3D printing into becoming what they call the "factory of the future". Since Ford has been an early adapter to 3D printing, collaborative robots, digital manufacturing and augmented reality, they can use advanced manufacturing methods to push the automotive industry into a new era. They prototype many concepts today, both in virtual space and in the physical space. Their goal is to create future factories where 3D printing is part of the manufacturing method.
Ford is excited to be partnering with Desktop Metal Studio+ because it's opening the possibility for mass production of vehicles to be manufactured efficiently while still being high quality.