While 3D printing has been in the automotive field for some time, use cases have been sparser than one would expect. Sure, there have been cases of tail light manufacturing and the occasional 3D printed car, but mass production is the exception rather than the rule. However, in a major development, Ford is now developing 3D printed brakes for their Shelby Mustang GT500. This is a massive leap forward for printing applications in prominent industrial usage.
Ford have stated that two crucial components of the brake require 3D printing, among other parts they print. Ford has had an on-going history with Carbon, using their CLIP technology in their production projects. However, the company also hosts 23 3D printers from 10 different companies, so they’ve definitely increased their AM usage since then.
Ford has not announced what these components are precisely, but we know they do belong to the brake system. The switch to 3D printing is most likely because of lower cost per unit or lighter parts overall.
Ford & Advanced Manufacturing Tools
Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan is a wonderland for modern manufacturing. Firstly, they use 3D printing for a variety of reasons. Aside from the 3D printed brakes, they also make specialized 3D printed tools. The new Ford Ranger received 5 specialized tools to help in its manufacture, which Ford says cut weeks off the Ranger’s production time.
Their additive manufacturing capabilities are just the tip of the iceberg. The company makes use of virtual reality and advanced robotics to up the ante in their vehicle production. VR allows them to visualise the parts and walk through their making to detect flaws in the model. Similarly, the company is making use of cobots as a means of making work safer and more efficient for employees.
All these innovations contribute to a far better overall automotive architecture for their newest line of cars. The Ford Mustang GT500 will celebrate its global premiere on January 14 at the Detroit Auto Show. It will make its commercial debut and be available for sale sometime later this year.
Featured image courtesy of Ford, retrieved via hotcars.com