Ford Motor Company is looking into how to 3D print large-scale one-piece auto parts, such spoilers, for prototyping and future production vehicles.

Ford says that additive manufacturing (AM) could bring immense benefits for automotive production, including the ability to produce lighter-weight parts that could lead to greater fuel efficiency. A 3D-printed spoiler could weigh less than half its cast metal counterpart. Additionally, Ford could use 3D printing to make larger tooling and fixtures, along with personalized components.

‘3D printing is not yet fast enough for high-volume manufacturing, but it is more cost efficient for low-volume production,’ the company said in a press release. ‘Additionally, minus the constraints of mass-production processes, 3D-printed parts can be designed to function more efficiently.’

The company is piloting Stratasys’ Infinite Build 3D printer to produce the various parts and tools.  The new system is housed at Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, USA.‘With Infinite Build technology, we can print large tools, fixtures and components, making us more nimble in design iterations,’ said Ellen Lee, Ford technical leader, additive manufacturing research. ‘We’re excited to have early access to Stratasys’ new technology to help steer development of large-scale printing for automotive applications and requirements.’

This story uses material from Fordwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.