The Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) of Michigan revealed on Monday they have started testing 3D printing on a big scale for car parts, a technology, the company says may one day allow drivers to customize their cars at a lower cost. The tests are being carried out at their Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn.
Extremely upbeat about this emerging technology, the automaker issued a statement saying this could be a “breakthrough for vehicle manufacturing”. 3D printing may one day deliver a number of benefits, which includes lower costs, better efficiency, and the ability of testing components and prototype parts for high-volume models such as racing cars. Stratasys, a 3D printing market-leader based out of Minnesota, is providing the technology for these tests.
How 3D Printing May Help Ford
This evolving technology is beginning to change the world in many ways, though, it’s true potential and utility is yet to be understood fully.
Ford says that manufacturing car parts in small batches is inefficient and expensive at this time, and this is where 3D printing may help. The technology is going to help them test new designs, and personalize parts as well for individual customers, which at this time is so costly that it is beyond the means of most people, and thus impractical. If the tests prove a success, and once Ford includes 3D printing commercially, consumers will be able to order upgrades and customizations easily.
Analysts are saying that consumers of the future, thanks to these upgrades and customizations, will end up having cars that look truly unique, and representations of who they really are.
There are other benefits too. For instance, 3D printing the plastic parts will make them lighter than the materials currently being used, and this means, the automobile will consume less fuel. In fact, according to the estimates of Ford Motor (NYSE:F), the weight could even be up to fifty percent less, which means considerable fuel efficiency.
Other Automakers Are Testing 3D Printing Technology As Well
Of course, Ford is not the only automobile business that is testing 3D technology, though they are the first American carmaker to do this. Europe has taken the lead here. Daimler AG (ETR:DAI) of Germany announced last year their plans of using 3D printing for making spare parts. Peugeot of France has also signed a deal already with Divergent 3D for developing metal printing processes that will be used to make their vehicles.