Ford Thanks Mustang Mach-E Customers with 3D Printed Sculpture
For many years now, Ford has been recognized in the automotive industry for its use of additive manufacturing. In 1988, the American car manufacturer acquired the first 3D printer available on the market. A daring bet for the company, which has proven to pay off. Since then, Ford hasn’t stopped using additive manufacturing, and the technology is now at the center of the company’s production system. In 2014, Ford explained that it was already printing no less than 100,000 parts per year for its car models. F1-type steering wheel, body components, rims, there are many examples of parts 3D printed by the company. But this time around, the American company decided to use additive manufacturing to thank its customers, rather than to create parts for its vehicles. In order to thank the buyers of the Mustang Mach-E First Edition, Ford has made a commitment to send them a 3D printed sculpture of a pony.
Designed from wire, the color of the sculpture will be adapted to the paintwork of the vehicles purchased. An innovative way for the American company to strengthen ties with its community. In this regard, Harold Seats, technical manager of additive manufacturing at Ford, explains: “This isn’t the first time we’ve 3D-printed a vehicle part, but this one is different. It highlights a special connection with the customer and is really exciting because it showcases the potential to personalize. When you think additive manufacturing, you think of making parts, assembly fixtures or jigs to help build a vehicle, but this is another place where additive manufacturing can shine.”
A different use of 3D printing
These sculptures will be 3D printed at Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center based in Redford, a suburb of Detroit. To produce them, the automotive company uses the SLS process , also known as selective laser sintering. This technology is compatible with a multitude of materials, although most of the time it is plastic polymers that are used. Ford did not give precise details as to the nature of the wire used for the sculptures. However, they will likely be made from nylon, one of the most popular materials with tech-savvy people.
Once the sculptures are printed, they are cleaned to remove excess powder and tinted in one of the following colors: metallic blue, metallic red or charred gray. These colors match those of the first edition Mustang Mach-E. With this initiative, Ford offers a new use of 3D printing and takes the opportunity to get closer to its most loyal customers.
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Cover photo credits: Ford Motor Company