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A look into additive manufacturing at automotive giant Ford

The Ford motor company has been a huge innovator since its creation in 1903. It broke records and made history with the model T, the first truly mass-produced car. Ford continues to push the boundaries today through its extensive use and investment into additive manufacturing.

In 1986 Ford purchased the SLA 3, the third 3D printer ever made. It was used by a handful of engineers as a way to create very basic, non-functional prototypes. Today Ford has access to all major additive manufacturing technologies. Such as FDM, SLA, DLMS and binder jetting. Their wealth of state of the art machinery is spread across 5 separate 3D prototyping facilities across USA and Europe.

Over the last few decades Ford estimates that it has printed well over 500,000 parts and saved billions of dollars in the process, plus uncountable man-hours. For example, using conventional processes, prototyping an intake manifold could take 4-5 months and cost upwards of $500,000. Thanks to additive manufacturing, however, the same part can be made in under a week for only $3,000.

Ford uses additive manufacturing to print infinitely customisable parts at a fraction of the cost of standard prototyping and casting. A batch of multiple part iterations can be printed in one go and in under one day. This allows the testing of many competing ideas to happen simultaneously, once more saving time and money. Any product fixes and changes can be enacted with no tooling costs or extra hassle. Once the drawing is edited, the part can be printed again as cheaply and efficiently as before, as opposed to having to edit tooling or re-manufacture a new tool.

Additive manufacturing has come on leaps and bounds since its creation and an increasing amount of large companies are beginning to understand its advantages. This is great news for consumers too as it should decrease costs while increasing customer choice. Fluxaxis is poised to join this “Fourth industrial revolution” and help you as a consumer see the advantages first hand. If you would like to benefit from our services, contact us here.