Ford pilots 3D printing of components to customise manufacture
A trial project is making use of industrial 3D printers supplied by Stratasys to establish whether production lines can be economised by fabricating key components and tools using the machines, or whether traditional production methods retain the upper hand.
This will allow the car manufacturer to ascertain whether greater customization of its products might now be possible by building specific parts and components at low volume, something that wouldn’t be economically viable using today's production techniques.
The holy grail for Ford is a new line of niche vehicle upgrade options for customers to express their individuality by adding made-to-order parts and customized aesthetics to mass-produced vehicle lines.
Additional benefits of 3D printing include lower costs and less weight, enhancing fuel efficiencies and lowering forecourt prices in one fell swoop. Ford is increasingly turning to technology to retain an upper hand in a competitive market and in this vein is investing heavily in self-driving cars.
It is hoped this will lead to a fleet of Uber-style self-driving cars that will hit the streets as early as 2021.