3D printing makes it big

March 6, 2017

From prosthetic limbs to reconstructed dinosaur skeletons, 3D printing can offer a flexible, more efficient and affordable means of production.

Now, we’re exploring how large car parts, like spoilers, could be printed for prototyping and future production vehicles – using a 3D printer as big as a room.

We will be the first automaker to pilot the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer, capable of printing car parts of practically any shape or length.

“With the Infinite Build technology, we are now able to print large tools, fixtures and components, making us more nimble in design iterations,” said Ellen Lee, Ford technical leader for additive manufacturing research.

Though 3D printing isn’t yet fast enough for high-volume production manufacturing, it is a more cost-efficient way to produce parts only needed at low volumes, like prototypes and specialised parts for racecars.

In the future, 3D printing could have immense benefits for automotive production, including the ability to produce lighter-weight parts, which may help improve fuel efficiency. A 3D-printed spoiler, for instance, may weigh less than half of its metal-cast equivalent.