The American automaker, Ford is testing 3D printing of large scale car parts using the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. The 3D printed large car parts will be lightweight than the conventionally manufactured counterparts. This will also help improve fuel efficiency of the vehicles. Moreover, this system could be a breakthrough for vehicle manufacturing, providing a more efficient and affordable way to produce tooling, prototype parts, or components at low volumes.
With this move, Ford becomes the first automaker to pilot the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. Besides exploring benefits of 3D printing, the company is also exploring potential applications for future production vehicles, like Ford Performance vehicles or for personalized car parts.
Ellen Lee, Ford technical leader for additive manufacturing research, said, “With the Infinite Build technology, we are now able to print large tools, fixtures, and components, making us more nimble in design iterations.”
“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”, he added further.
How It Works?
Car parts’ specifications are transferred from the computer-aided design program to the printer’s computer for design analysis. Then, the device goes to work, printing one layer of material at a time – in this case, plastic – and then gradually stacking the layers into a finished 3D object. When the system detects that the raw material or supply material canister is empty, a robotic arm automatically replaces it with a full canister. This allows the printer to operate for hours or days while unattended.
Benefits of 3D printing
– 3D printing is a more cost-efficient way to produce parts only needed at low volumes, like prototypes and specialized parts for racecars. Additionally, when not limited by the constraints of mass production processes, components can be designed to function more efficiently.
– With 3D printing, Ford can print the same part in days at a significantly reduced cost.