Ford tests 3D printed car parts for customization, cost savings

Auto / Tech

Ford is currently only testing these techniques in their Dearborn, Michigan, research facilities.

The customization afforded by aftermarket car parts may be coming to your next Ford. The auto giant has been testing the viability of 3D printed production car parts and their ability to cut costs as well as offer reduced weight and limitless customization. This isn’t the first time that Ford has dabbled with 3D printing, though it does represent the first time that they’re testing it for larger parts and custom uses.

Ford has been using tech from Stratasys, a company at the forefront of 3D printing and modeling. This testing phase is being used by Ford to determine how they might best use 3D printing and additive manufacturing to lower costs and better serve its customers. The ability to print some large custom parts opens up huge avenues that were previously cost-prohibitive at the very least. In order to create a custom part, automakers would first need to make a custom mold for the part, which is expensive and time consuming. Printing a custom part — if determined to be a viable option — would cut down on cost and time significantly.

3D printing will also be a benefit for prototype or concept vehicle construction, where only a very small number of vehicles may ever be created. It will also allow for customization for customers. A company could, for example, add their company logo to a pre-determined part of the vehicle, and that customization could be available as soon as the car rolled off of the assembly line, rather than having to use aftermarket parts or accessories for the same effect.

Ford is currently only testing these techniques in their Dearborn, Michigan, research facilities, but if their testing goes well, it may only be a matter of time before we start to see 3D printed custom car parts on brand new Ford vehicles.

What do you think about Ford testing 3D printing for large car parts? Good idea? Are there any downsides you can think of? Tell us all about it in the comment section below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: Ford
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