- At Ford you can now print out your cars
- A car made up of 212 shifts
- So Ford now wants to attack Porsche and Ferrari
- Spare parts stores would be superfluous
- The first parts for series production are already available
- This is where food comes from the 3D printer
At Ford you can now print out your cars
Not yet in series production, but already available as a model car data set: If you have a 3-D printer, you can simply print out the new Ford GT
Cars from the 3-D printer already exist: Ford offers models – albeit in a 1:24 scale. But the cars for the showcase are only a few development steps ahead of their large, drivable counterparts.
D.hat just print out your own toy car? Children’s hearts should jump in the air at the thought. The selection is still poor, but at least Ford has made the start.
The American company is the first car manufacturer to offer printer data for download with which popular sports cars such as Fiesta, Mustang or Focus RS / ST can be produced as 1:24 models at home with just a few clicks.
The children’s room at home becomes a mini car factory – provided the production tool is available: a special 3-D printer.
Normally a giant, but very small as a 3-D print model: This F-150 Raptor is printed on a 1:24 scale
It remains to be seen whether other automotive companies will follow suit and open a similar merchandise department. But in real car manufacturing, 3-D printing has already taken on its first tasks. The industry uses the new technology, for example, for the faster and cheaper production of prototype parts.
A car made up of 212 shifts
Leaving the production of larger individual parts to the 3-D printer is no longer a utopia. At the IAA in September 2015, the automotive supplier Edag presented the “Light cocoon” study, a lightweight construction concept with an outer skin made of fabric and a body partly produced in a 3-D printer.
Last year, the American start-up Local Motors even printed out almost an entire car in just 44 hours – the Strati, which is reminiscent of a buggy. The name stands for “layers” in Italian and it illustrates what happens in 3-D printing: the bathtub-like chassis consists of 212 layers printed one after the other.
So Ford now wants to attack Porsche and Ferrari
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The return of a legend: the mid-engined Ford GT super sports car is due to hit the market in early 2016.
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With a carbon body, more than 600 hp and rear-wheel drive as well as a successful design mix of retro and modern, he then competes against Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Huracan and …Porsche 911 Turbo on.
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The model for design and naming is the GT40 racing car, with which Ford broke Ferrari’s supremacy at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1966. As a special eye-catcher…This time there are wing doors for easier entry. With the predecessors, the conventionally attached portals extended far into the roof for this purpose.
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Another eye-catcher: the typical engine cockpit at the rear.
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The start of production of the Ford GT has been announced for the end of 2015. After that, it should be available in selected markets – including Germany.
While the Strati has so far been a one-off, the small Ford models are facing small mass production depending on customer feedback. Ford charges just under five dollars each for the printer data. Those who do not have their own 3-D printer can order the models in blue for 39 dollars each. You can even manufacture the GT super sports car yourself, which has not even gone into series production.
Back to the world of the big: 3-D printing processes are about to revolutionize the way we manufacture our cars. This has long been done in other areas such as dental technology, plastic surgery, aerospace or architecture.
Spare parts stores would be superfluous
Significantly shorter development times are tempting because it is faster and cheaper to print prototype or small series parts than to build them with a comparatively inflexible tool.
At the same time, doers like Local Motors boss Jay Rogers dream of the end of the mega-factories – in their place he sees decentralized smaller plants that only leave a maximum of 10,000 to 15,000 cars per year, but could bring advantages in sales. Vehicles could also become cheaper, as 3-D printing does not generate waste and no longer requires a spare parts store.
Ford sees itself as a pioneer in “generative” or “additive” 3-D processes – the bonnet for the Mustang is already the 500,000 prototype part produced using 3-D printing. As early as 1988, the Americans bought one of the world’s first available 3-D printing machines in order to manufacture parts such as air filters, intake manifolds and the like for prototypes.
Well-rounded: this 3-D printout of a steering wheel was used for a Ford prototype
Since then, the systems have become significantly faster and more versatile and can not only process plastics, but also metals and even gold. Most recently, Ford produced prototype parts for the super sports car GT, which will be launched on the market at the end of 2016 – the steering wheel, the shift paddles, the intake manifold and parts of the side swinging doors.
At Ford‘s 3-D printing department in Cologne, the parts are created on the basis of CAD data and printed out using the 3-D process. How resilient they are depends on the material used – plastic, sand or metal. What they all have in common is a process in which the mass is shaped additively, i.e. layer by layer, with the help of a laser. So far, it is still common for a blank to be planed off for a long time to the finished part.
“3-D printing technology has changed the way we design new vehicles. Technology is currently developing faster than ever before, we can incorporate more creativity and take into account the latest findings in terms of design and technology, ”says Sandro Piroddi, 3-D expert at Ford Europe.
The first parts for series production are already available
Ford has high hopes for resilient resins such as those used by the film industry for special effects. This is because they would cure 25 to 100 times faster than other 3-D materials when exposed to UV light – a first step towards the use of 3-D parts in series production. In the USA, Ford, in cooperation with the supplier Carbon 3D, has already created smaller interior parts for the electric version of the Focus and the Ford Transit Connect in this way.
This is where food comes from the 3D printer
It seems so simple: choose the motif, choose the flavor and press print: With the special “Foodini” 3D printer, you could create your own food in the future. Source: Reuters
3D printing is also used in Formula 1, other racing cars or even small series. In the Koenigsegg Agera One: 1 super sports car, for example, the exhaust end piece consists of a printer component.
Three things are currently holding back the triumphant advance of 3-D printing: It is not yet guaranteed that the quality will always be one hundred percent identical. "It will be five to ten years before we can manufacture hundreds of thousands of parts," says Perry Hubbing, product specialist at RedEye, a subsidiary of 3-D pioneer Stratasys.
And even the most expensive printers can only produce parts up to a certain size. And even they are still quite slow compared to classic tools.
Model car fans with a weakness for Ford don’t have to wait that long: the Cologne press department expects a delivery time of two to four weeks for a 3-D car printed in the USA. One would have to wait longer for a life-size car.
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