Ford cars and additive manufacturing - small materials create big differences

- Apr 17, 2019-

* automobile industry is one of the early industries to truly realize the benefits of 3D printing.

Over the past decade, advances in technology have led to major changes in the development, design, manufacturing and distribution processes of automakers -- safer, lighter products, new designs, lower costs and shorter development and manufacturing processes.


A study by AlliedMarketResearch found that 3D printing adds value to existing products and features in every way, making it indispensable in the automotive industry.

The success story of 3D printing began with the prototype design of a car, but now additive manufacturing has moved into other parts of the car industry and is showing promise.


Application examples of 3D printing in ford


Ford USES Ultimaker's tabletop 3D printer to design and make assembly tools such as fixtures, jigs and gauges.

Generally speaking, these tools are complex in design, cost-effective, fast in production, and can be produced directly in the field.


At the pilot plant in cologne, ford is using 3D printing to optimize the production process for specific product fixtures, tools and templates during vehicle design and development


3D printing technology has been used at ford's pilot plant in cologne, Germany.

The factory has a complete set of small production equipment, and the design of the new model carried out in the factory is basically mature.

In the process of developing automobile models, engineers need to customize a large number of appropriate production tools, which are often designed for specific tasks and models.

The ford focus series alone requires more than 50 different assembly tools, all of which were initially developed in pilot plants and then 3D printed on site in all European plants.


Sourcing these tools from outside manufacturers is time-consuming, costly, and slows development.

To optimize the workflow, ford's additive manufacturing team decided to integrate Ultimaker's tabletop 3D printer into the workflow.

"Ford chose Ultimaker because the quality and reliability of the printing result would be in proportion to its cost *," says LarsBognar, ford's additive manufacturing research engineer.


Multiple consumables make many tools


The advantage of desktop 3D printing is the materials.

A large number of consumables and a wide range of material properties provide the correct solution for practical applications.

With only one additive manufacturing process, the production equipment can meet the requirements of diverse applications and operating environments.

Consumables and their material properties range from almost endless: strength, elasticity, heat resistance, strength, resilience, durability, all in the range of predictable changes.

For 3D printing technology, it is crucial to be able to print in quality and quantity without losing material properties.


A key factor in the use of desktop 3D printers is the open consumable system. 3D printing production tools can be applied to consumables with different material properties from different material manufacturers to realize their respective applications and manufacturing.

Because Ultimaker's open consumables system allows 3D printing using a variety of materials with manufacturers, traditional tools will be replaced with lightweight, durable plastic tools.


This feature of 3D printers, particularly in production equipment, tools and assembly AIDS, demonstrates the disruptive potential of additive manufacturing processes and has led to demonstrative changes.

Especially with regard to assembly tools, the applications are not only very diverse in form, but also extremely broad in scope.


Print quality and effect


The perfect coordination of hardware, software, and materials is essential for producing high-quality prints.

To meet the growing demand for industrial materials for the automotive industry, Ultimaker is working with leading materials manufacturers to bring high-quality engineering plastics and composites for industrial 3D printing to market using Ultimaker printers.


Ultimaker Material Alliance Program, established in April 2018, aims to meet the growing demand for industrial-grade 3D printing materials.

In just a year later, many lead materials manufacturers including DSM (DSM), and BASF (BASF), DuPont (DuPont), Owens Corning (Owens Corning), aqua (Arkema), Jabil (Jabil), LeiManFu (Lehmann & Voss&Co.), etc., actively use Ultimaker provide Print configuration Assistant (Print Profile Assistant), more quickly to a variety of high-performance FFF3D printed material into the professional market.

As of April 2019, more than 80 companies have jointly developed material profiles for the Ultimaker materials alliance project for FFF3D printing.


In addition, Ultimaker's software for material manufacturers includes a lot of knowledge from research and development as well as the company's printed materials, enabling material manufacturers to develop and maintain material profiles that users can really easily use on a desktop 3D printer with an open consumable system.

The print profile is pre-configured and available on the freely accessible Ultimaker Cura software.

Instead of manually entering the print parameters, the user can access the preconfigured Settings for automatic printing.

Even the plastic, which is so demanding for its technology *, can be incorporated into industrial applications using Ultimaker's 3D printer.


Explore more application possibilities


The benefits of desktop 3D printing are obvious.

They are lighter than conventional tools and can accommodate additional requirements more quickly.

Save 1,000 per tool for printing assembly AIDS, such as fixtures and fixtures, compared to the cost of conventional production tools.

From the original average of 10 weeks of external contracts, including design and manufacturing, to now even the complex assembly fixture, * late can be completed within 10 days.


Ford USES desktop 3D printers in all of its European plants.

The cologne development team provides tool designs for other manufacturing plants that can be printed directly on site in 24 hours.

In addition, assembly AIDS are 70% lighter than conventional tools.

At ford alone, more than 50 different additive tools are used in the ford focus range.

Although additive manufacturing is currently used as a manufacturing aid at ford, other applications are still being explored.

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