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Ford Motors unveil the design process behind the Ford GT, Ford Mustang and Focus RS

Ford incorporate 3D printing in design process.

Ford Motors have unveiled the design process behind their  all-new Ford GT, Ford Mustang, and Focus RS including the use of 3D printing. By using 3D printing they have reduced development time to enable tests and refining the approaches which can combat the inhibitions of previous traditional prototyping methods and at a fraction of the cost.

For the Ford GT, designers used laser 3D printing techniques to help create the F1-style steering wheel with integrated driver controls and the transmission paddle-shift controls. Engineers also printed key lightweight structural components for the upward-swinging doors.

Customers who own their own 3D printer, The Ford 3D Store, offers the first automaker‑authorised one-stop store for 3D-printable files. As well as enabling customers to print their own Ford GT, templates for a further 1,000 models also include the Fiesta ST, Focus ST and the F-150 Raptor.

The process begins with a sketch by the Ford Design team, it is then created in a clay scale model and then later a full-size version of the vehicle to assess proportions and develop the design. In the meantime, digital sculptors use CAD to create a model which is used in conjunction to develop the more complex and detailed items which is where Rapid Prototype teams at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre, in Essex and at its European headquarters in Germany come into play.

Rapid Prototyping helps to evaluate the design and uses one of a number of techniques to create the piece they are working on, including 3D printing. The latter requires CAD software that “slices” parts into paper‑thin layers that can be built up into a 3D printed prototype. After printing, excess material is dissolved away and the part can be finished by sanding or painting. The completed part is then available to the design studio or test facility.

“3D computer printing technology has totally changed the way we design and develop new vehicles. We can be more creative in trying to find potential solutions, and for the customer this means that our cars are better able to incorporate the latest thinking in design and technology,” said Sandro Piroddi, Ford of Europe’s Rapid Technology supervisor.

The Ford 3D Store (http://3d.ford.com) can be viewed online for all customers that own a 3D printer.