DEARBORN, MI — Ford Motor Co. said it’s testing a Stratasys Ltd. 3D printer to produce large vehicle parts and tooling.
Ford (Dearborn, MI) said it’s using a Stratasys Infinite Build printer for the tests. Stratasys (Minneapolis and Rehovot, Israel) unveiled the machine last year at an August press briefing in Bloomington, MN, and the IMTS trade show in Chicago in September.
Ford said it’s looking at 3D printing, large parts such as spoilers as well as prototypes, tooling and other low-volume parts.
“We are now able to print large tools, fixtures and components, making us more nimble in design iterations,” Ellen Lee, Ford technical additive for additive manufacturing research, said in an e-mailed statement.
The 3D printing system is at the automaker’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn.
Stratasys developed the Infinite Build printer with Ford and aircraft maker Boeing Co. (Chicago) as partners. The system is designed to build large thermoplastic parts.
The machine uses the Stratasys-developed FDM 3D printing technology. Boeing has studied the technology to study making low volume, lightweight parts, according to Stratasys.
With 3D printing, parts are made directly from a digital design. Ford said 3D printing can be as a way to lighten parts to improve fuel efficiency. The company estimates a 3D-printed spoiler can way half of a cast-iron spoiler.
Ford also released a promotional video of the 3D printing system.