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Old 12-12-2018, 08:03 AM   #65
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Join Date: Nov 2004

Yup, the 2019 North American International Auto Show is shaping up to be one of the most astounding shows in years. One of the most important debuts there will be that of the Mustang Shelby GT500. Yup, the 700+hp muscle car will finally make its debut at the 2019 NAIAS. Apart from all its glorified features, it will also carry two 3D printed parts. And I know which ones.

Two 3D Printed Parts For The Upcoming Shelby Mustang GT500 As it turns out (not yet officially, mind you, but I am confident of what I am about to write), the 2020 Shelby GT500 will have 3D printed brake line brackets.

Ford was not exactly proudly presenting all the 3D printed stuff. I mean, brake line brackets. Ford can do better. And people were expecting better. Maybe 3D printed brake discs…

Wait! 3D printed discs?

Well, get this - a few months back Ford filed a patent for the production of a 3D printed brake disc.

Specialized 3D Printed Tools Another example of the Ford 3D printing ingenuity is the decision to produce certain specialized tools for the production of the new Ford Ranger.

Ford says that new tools do, in fact, cut down on the Ranger's production time and considerably lowers the cost of production.

Sure, Ford only vaguely touched on by how much it all lowers the costs. The company has said - it cuts weeks of the Ranger’s production time. Whatever that exactly means.

Chinese-Bound F-150 Raptors Have some 3D-Printed Interior Components This is the truth. Ford, with its 90 different 3D printers all around the world, produces a number of parts for its vehicles.

One of the most incredible facts is that it also produces some interior parts for the Chinese version of the F-150 Raptor.

They are a bit shy to exactly point them all out, but we’ll find out soon enough, I believe.

Ford Filed A Patent For The Production Of The 3D Printed Brake Disc Only months ago, Ford actually filed a patent for the production of a 3D printed brake disc.

While I highly doubt that the technology has come that far to allow Ford to 3D print discs and actually install them on the new GT500, I can say that filing a patent says a lot about Ford's intentions.

Heck, not only did it file a patent for 3D printing a brake disc, but an aluminum brake disc at that. If you know anything about metals, you can probably imagine that an aluminum disc would be considerably lighter than a conventional one. More than 50 percent lighter. However, aluminum isn’t really good when it comes to coping with the heat. Its melting point is below 650 degrees Celsius. Brakes tend to get much hotter than that. The thing is that Ford aims to 3D print brake discs made of some alloy with aluminum as its main component.

This is what the inventors of the aluminum brake disc had to say about it:

“During the fusion metallurgical building up of the friction ring by using a laser deposition welding process or a 3D-printing process, the rapidly solidified aluminum alloy in powder form maintains its favorable mechanical properties. In this way, for example, a high level of thermal stability and a high level of abrasion resistance of the friction ring can be achieved so that an after-coating of the friction ring can be dispensed with.”

Ford Purchased the Third-ever 3D Printer Back In 1988 Ford is rather serious with its 3D printing intentions. The Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan is like a 3D printing paradise with 23 3D printers used for production and experimentation.

However, Ford was the first to jump on the 3D printing wagon. All the way back in 1988 that is.

It bought the third 3D printer ever produced. Then, the development of the integration of the 3D printing into its production process started taking shape sometime in the early 2000s. The best possible use of the 3D printing process isn’t exactly the mass production of parts for its cars, but actually the production of prototypes.

Apparently, using 3D printers saves hundreds of thousands for Ford with the production of prototype parts.

Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan Ford invested $45 million in its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford. Apart from virtual reality research and software development, Ford tests 3D printing process and will mass 3D print parts for use on its cars.

Brake line brackets for the 2020 Shelby GT500 will come from this facility.

This facility, in fact, houses 23 3D printers. I believe you know that I am not talking about your run of the mill 3D printers that can print Viserion and Dragon figurines. These are industrial units costing tens of millions each. Some of them can actually use metals like titanium or aluminum for the printing process. Not only can they print some brackets, but in some time, I am sure we are going to see 3D printed body parts, intricate mechanical devices, and what not.

Having 23 3D printers isn’t enough, of course. So, Ford partnered with ten different 3D printing companies to achieve all of its 3D printing goals and speed up the 3D printing development. Ford Fans Could Purchase 3D Printed Scale Models Obviously, Ford wants to promote its 3D printing efforts the most.

Back in 2015, just after its deal with Carbon 3D, Ford announced that you could actually buy their 3D printed cars.

Well, they have not been produced by Carbon 3D. The production was outsourced. Despite the bureaucracy behind it all, true intentions are obvious - Ford wants to be one of the leaders in the segment. Selling efforts did not go that well, but the intentions were sound. I am quite sure that a similar deal could be struck with the new 2020 Shelby GT500.

Cutting Costs
Additive manufacturing is an “official industry standard term (ASTM F2792) for all applications of the technology. It is defined as the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies.”

Obviously, a shrewd mind can think that this dramatically lowers potential material loses, speeds up the process from development to production, almost fully dispenses with the specialized tool development and production, and lowers the costs of the produced parts.

Harold Sears, Technical Expert for rapid manufacturing and additive manufacturing technologies at Ford Motor says “Ford has really been an early adopter of these technologies. We are here to integrate this technology more in manufacturing.”

Obviously, it is happening. How better to promote the whole thing than by producing parts for the royalty of the Shelby GT500!?

Final Thoughts
With the introduction of the 2020 Shelby GT Ford Mustang, Ford will greet us with the ultimate expression of its current philosophy. Sure, the Ford GT is an astounding supercar, but the Shelby GT500 is really what all of us are waiting for.

With 700+ horsepower, the 2020 Shelby GT500 is an ultimate Hellcat fighting toy.

Yet, with all that potential, Ford is looking to cash in on some other things - 3D printing seems to be one link in that important car production chain. Better get used to it.
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