March 7, 2017

Ford Motor Company is doing something no one would have dreamed of a decade or so ago: the company has officially started testing 3D printing of large-scale parts for its cars, and this may open up a world of new possibilities.

Ford is testing Stratasys 3D printing technology

The American automaker announced today that it would be testing 3D technology provided by Stratasys in manufacturing large-scale parts for its vehicles. The pilot project will look at how the car company might be able to produce large components in small volumes, something that simply wouldn’t be cost-effective otherwise.

That would come in handy especially in fields like building racing cars or prototype concept vehicles where things have to be done with speed and efficiency. But of course, it can transform the way that ordinary consumers interact with their vehicles too. For instance, you could easily customize your parts and add functional or aesthetic features to them as you please, sort of like modular phones.

Not only that, as TechCrunch points out, 3D printed parts also offer weight savings: for instance, Ford estimates that a 3D printed spoiler could be more than half the weight of a metal equivalent. Now, if every part weighed even a little bit less than now, that could potentially mean a substantial increase in fuel efficiency.

It’s true that 3D printing in the auto industry is currently at a very nascent stage, but it does provide a glimpse into what future production, manufacturing, customization, and delivery might look like.

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