The use 3D printing technology is becoming more widespread across a number of industries, and the automotive domain is no exception. The cost of using this technology continues to fall, making its benefits that much more attractive to manufacturers.
You can now count Ford among those companies who are using 3D printing. But what you might not know is that the American automaker is no stranger to the technology. Ford acquired its first 3D printer way back in 1988; it was the third ever created. Today the company owns 90 of them.
Ford said this week that 23 of those printers are being used to build two brake components that will make their debut in the 2020 Shelby GT500, set to be unveiled at the next Detroit auto show in January 2019.
This won’t even be the first time Ford has used a part made with a 3D printer. A regional version of the F-150 Raptor sold in China contains a 3D-printed interior part. And in Michigan, the machines are being used for quality control on the new Ford Ranger.
Other manufacturers, notably Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, are also working with the technology.
Ford also said that it’s partnering with 10 3D printer firms to develop applications that can be used during the manufacture of future vehicles. The automaker explained that one of them could provide it with an annual saving of $2 million.
Will we see the day when a 3D printed car drives among us? This may seem farfetched today, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent years and decades, it’s that when it comes to technology, virtually nothing is impossible. Since the turn of the century in particular, the advances have been exponential.
As for those Shelby parts, we’ll be learning more about them when the model gets its big reveal in January. Stay tuned…