Ford, the American automaker, has opened an Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Detroit. At this Center, Ford is also 3D printing parts for the upcoming Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 sports car to save costs.
The recently opened Advanced Manufacturing Center has integrated 3D printing, collaborative robots (cobots), digital manufacturing and augmented reality to push the automotive industry into a new era.
Ford’s Chief Engineer, Mike Mikula, said, “It is part of our core mission is to make sure we have a standard suite of technology that we’re deploying across our facilities.”
Automating the auto industry
The automotive industry continues to investigate the use of 3D printing. Some of the biggest names in the industry have employed the technology. For example, the German automotive corporation, Daimler, has used the technology for 25 years. Furthermore, BMW MINI has also explored car customization with 3D printing and Mercedes-Benz recently announced 3D printed parts for its classic models.
Ford itself is an early investor in 3D printing technology. The company has a significant 3D printing capability with approximately thirty facilities possessing 3D printers, including the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. Furthermore, the automaker is partners with the 3D printer and materials manufacturer, Carbon.
Harold Sears, Ford’s Technical Leader, Additive Manufacturing, explained, “Ford has really been an early adopter of these technologies […] We are here to integrate this technology more in manufacturing.”
The Advanced Manufacturing Center has twenty-three printers from 10 different additive manufacturing companies, including Stratasys, HP, and EOS.
Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Ford is putting the 3D printers to good use. The automaker has announced that the upcoming Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 will have 3D printed parts. The latest model will have two 3D printed brackets which hold the brake line, a part which supplies hydraulic pressure to the wheel brake on pressing of the brake pedal.
It is reported that the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 will have a 700hp 5.2-litre V8 engine and will be the most powerful sports car made by Ford. It will be showcased at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, on 14 January 2019.
Racing towards Industry 4.0
Last year, Ford announced a $4.5 billion five year plan for advanced manufacturing, and this seems to be bearing fruit.
The 135,000 sq of the $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center is not solely for 3D printing parts. With augmented reality, digital manufacturing, cobots, and 3D printing, the Center is a model of advanced manufacturing methods, a factory of the future.
Augmented reality helps train workers at the facility to assemble complex parts. Using the virtual reality (VR) goggles workers can hold a real part while seeing the 3D model of the component.
Using VR technology, the company is also exploring ways to create the assembly line system for the 21st century.
On future expectations, Ford’s president of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs, said, “More than 100 years ago, Ford created the moving assembly line, forever changing how vehicles would be mass-produced.” “Today, we are reinventing tomorrow’s assembly line — tapping technologies once only dreamed of on the big screen — to increase our manufacturing efficiency and quality.”
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Featured image shows a teaser image of Ford Shelby Mustang GT500. Image via Ford