Ford continues to explore the possibilities of 3D printing.
The American automaker has been using 3D printing for a few years now, saying that the technology helps expedite prototyping and even used it for its new race car in 2015. Ford also has an online 3D print shop and now it’s the first automaker to pilot the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. The company is exploring how large one-piece auto parts, like car spoilers, could be printed not just for prototyping, but also future production vehicles. It believes 3D printing could be used for components at low volumes, like Ford Performance vehicles or personalized car parts.
Ford says parts that are printed can be lighter in weight than their traditionally manufactured counterparts, and may even help improve fuel efficiency as a result. The new 3D print system is located at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn and is capable of printing car parts of practically any shape or length.
“With the Infinite Build technology, we are now able to print large tools, fixtures, and components, making us more nimble in design iterations,” said Ellen Lee, Ford technical leader for additive manufacturing research. “We’re excited to have early access to Stratasys’ new technology in order to help steer the development of large scale printing for automotive applications and requirements.”