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- 3D rapid prototyping enables Ford engineers to create workable parts right at their desks digitally – increasing global efficiency, greatly reducing development time and time to market, and saving cost
- Ford is a leader in 3D printing, investing in efforts not only to enable engineers to create an entrepreneurial spirit through experimenting at their workstations, but also investing in one of the newest forms of 3D printing with sand to help develop production-representative parts
- Manufacturing and desktop rapid prototyping converge as each Ford EcoBoost® engine – now available in the upcoming Transit Van, all-new Fusion, 2014 Fiesta and full-size F-150 pickup – utilizes the technology to develop parts
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 26, 2012 – In Ford’s Silicon Valley Lab, Dave Evans creates a custom vehicle gauge and emails the 3D design to Zac Nelson in Dearborn. Nelson uses the MakerBot® Thing-O-Matic™ at his workstation and prints up a physical prototype. The future of research and development is happening right here and now at the desks of these Ford engineers.
Click here to see Nelson, a Ford engineer in Research and Innovation, explain and use the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic at his workstation.
Just like laser printers today, expect 3D printers to be commonplace tomorrow. Engineers throughout the industry will have the ability to visualize a design on a computer screen and have the physical prototype show up at a colleague’s desk on the other side of the country in minutes. With this capability, the most qualified experts in each domain can make changes that feed into a tangible model. They can then share a 3D CAD design with the improvements.
“We’ve been shifting from the tangible world to the computer world, and the reality is that a hybrid model works best,” says K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader, Open Innovation, and a member of Ford’s Technology Advisory Board, Research and Innovation. “There is nothing like having a tangible prototype, but it has always been time consuming and expensive to create.
“Now, at the press of a button, you can have the product or component at your fingertips,” he adds. “With a model in one hand, you can then input your changes back into the computer model. The best decisions are made from the highest quality engineer and at the best pace.”
Currently thought of as a do-it-yourself tool for independent entrepreneurs and hobbyists, MakerBot enables users to design and produce products in various plastic materials. Ford is using this low-cost 3D printing in similar ways to other technology companies, mainly for small developments like shift knobs, gauges and display modules.
“We encourage our engineers to have the same entrepreneurial and creative spirit that started this movement,” says Prasad. “When we first got the machine, we made a scaled-down replica Model T and engineers have even made superheroes. We like that people are having fun with it and experimenting for it is that type of creativity that will lead to great uses and discoveries.”
Where we are now
Ford is using 3D printing in the manufacturing world, bridging the gap between abstract and practical.
Large industrial rapid prototyping machines have made significant gains in the manufacturing world, and Ford is fully invested in the latest commercial 3D printing innovations.
Recently, many of the components for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost® engine in the all-new Transit Van were developed with the aid of 3D rapid manufacturing. Cast aluminum oil filtration adaptors, exhaust manifolds, differential carrier, brake rotors, oil pan, differential case casting and even rear axles were prototyped with the technology, specifically utilizing selective laser sintering, stereolithography and 3D sand casting.
Additionally, Ford is a leader in a new variation on this technology: 3D printing with sand allows for the creation of casting patterns and cores with multiple printers in-house.
The technology enables engineers to quickly create a series of evolving testable pieces with slight variations to develop the absolute best vehicle for mass production. This results in improved efficiency and time to market, reduced time spent waiting on iterations and increased cost savings.
Examples of 3D sand printing include:
- C-MAX, Fusion Hybrid: Rotor supports, transmission cases, damper housings and end covers for the new HF35 hybrid transmission built at Van Dyke Transmission Plant in suburban Detroit
- Escape: EcoBoost four-cylinder engines in the 2013 Escape built at Louisville Assembly Plant
- Explorer: Brake rotors for the 2011 Explorer built in Chicago. The rotors were modified late in development to address a brake noise issue discovered in durability testing
- F-150: Exhaust manifolds for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost built in Cleveland and used in F-150
Where this could lead
In the not-so-distant future, if a part breaks on your refrigerator, you may be able to scan the barcode or a model number, take the information to an in-home rapid manufacturing machine, and actually print up a useable replacement piece.
“Many have referenced this technology as ushering in a third industrial revolution,” says Harold Sears, Ford additive manufacturing technical specialist. “While that is yet to be determined, we do know manufacturing is continuing to go digital, the speed of these technologies is increasing, and the variety of materials is expanding. This all leads us to believe the potential of micro-manufacturing presents great opportunity for the manufacturing industry overall.”
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
- Ford vehicles including the all-new 2013 Fusion are increasingly equipped with sensors that assist drivers with increased awareness
- Sensor fusion, machine learning, and “big data” among the predictions for the next wave of Ford research and development
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 21, 2012 – State-of-the-art sensing, computing and communications systems are not only quickly changing consumer expectations in people’s everyday lives, but are driving innovation in the automotive industry at an incredible pace in preparation for the future.
“Ford was founded on the innovative spirit of Henry Ford, and the opportunity today to reinvent the driving experience excites us just as it probably would have him,” said Paul Mascarenas, vice president and chief technical officer of Ford. “Technology is enabling Ford to bring a new level of awareness and intelligence that will dramatically enhance our customers’ time behind the wheel.”
As CTO, Mascarenas has been leading the team researching and developing new technologies for Ford vehicles, particularly in the area of driver assistance and mobile device connectivity.
“The new Fusion sedan demonstrates how we’re making the car smarter using attainable and affordable technology and thus helping create a better driver,” continues Mascarenas. “Fusion features an unprecedented level of sensors for its driver assist technologies, machine learning techniques to deliver more electric-only driving on the hybrids, and innovative graphical interfaces to help coach drivers to be as fuel efficient as possible.”
With more than 145 actuators, 4716 signals, and 74 sensors including radar, sonar, cameras, accelerometers, temperature and even rain sensors, the 2013 Fusion can monitor the perimeter around the car and see into places that are not readily visible from the driver’s seat. These sensors produce more than 25 gigabytes of data per hour which is analyzed by more than 70 on-board computers. The actuators combined with signal information from the driver assist sensors can alert the driver to potential dangers, and actively assist with parking and lane keeping.
“So far we’ve just scratched the surface of what is possible,” said Mascarenas. “In the Fusion, we have sensors and actuators that act independently as part of the assist features. The next phase, currently in research, involves sensor fusion, where engineers learn how to more comprehensively characterize the environment by blending multiple signals, and add externally available information through cloud connectivity.”
According to Mascarenas’ predictions, top areas for car technology innovation in the coming years will include:
- “Big data” analysis and intelligent decision making: Ford is researching the use of real-time sensor data – radar and camera-based – that can help evaluate external factors affecting driver attention, such as traffic congestion, and thus limit potential distractions such as an incoming phone call
- Upgradeable, customizable hardware: Ford’s OpenXC research platform looks at the potential for open-source, community-driven innovation of plug-and-play hardware modules that provide infinite opportunities for rapid customization
- Seamless integration across cloud ecosystems: The success of Ford SYNC® has been linked to its open, agnostic platform strategy that has allowed for adoption and compatibility with the burgeoning mobile ecosystem; the next step is to do the same for the consumer shift toward cloud-based services
- Advanced machine learning: The new Fusion and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids utilize EV+, a feature that learns the typical locations of charging, such as home and office, and then automatically maximizes electric-only driving mode when nearing those locations
- Biometrics: Ford is researching biometric sensors, such as those embedded in a car seat, to measure stress levels for a more personalized response from driver assist technologies, because skill levels – and thus stress – can vary in certain situations
- Prediction: Ford researchers are looking at ways to predict driver behavior, such as a driver’s destination based on prior history, to help optimize and configure vehicle controls for improved performance such as better energy management
- Rapid data authentication: Ford sees significant potential in vehicle-to-vehicle communications and is actively researching the technology globally, including advanced Wi-Fi® with rapid authentication capability so that cars can exchange information quickly and securely, helping drivers avoid potential collisions
“All of these areas of research are well within our reach,” concludes Mascarenas. “The key to readiness and implementation in Ford vehicles is ensuring the customer experience of these technology features trumps the technology itself.”
Ford F-150 SVT Raptor’s Success as Performance Truck Mirrored in the Toy Store as Top-Selling Licensed Truck
- Ford F-150 SVT Raptor has become the most sought-after truck for licensed merchandise
- Raptor’s popularity on toy store shelves reflects its popularity in Ford showrooms. Sales of Ford’s high-performance off-road pickup increased by 40 percent in 2012
- Raptor replicas and integrations have helped the world’s most popular toy and video game brands enjoy tremendous success
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 20 2012 – You don’t need a license for the latest Ford F-150 SVT Raptor high-performance truck product. You can now buy the Ford high-performance truck in the toy shop.
Reflecting Raptor’s leading sales results – with an increase of 40 percent in 2012 – sales of licensed products of Raptor are also leading their categories in toy and gaming segments.
Raptor replicas are extremely popular when it comes to children’s choices in toys and video games. Manufacturers know how much children of all ages enjoy the pickup. In fact, Ford Motor Company’s licensing demands have reached an all-time high, replacing GM’s Hummer brand as the most sought-after licensed truck.
Raptor’s popularity in licensed merchandise clearly reflects its leading position in the performance truck market. Its reputation as the ultimate high-performance off-road pickup has helped increase sales this year by 20 percent, breaking last year’s record. And, in October and November, Raptor sales reached an all-time high as the first and second best sales months, ever.
The most popular toy and video game brands in the world enjoy tremendous success from their Raptor-inspired creations.
“We knew we had a winner on our hands when we first introduced Raptor to the toy and video game companies three years ago,” said Mark Bentley, licensing manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing. “Licensing executives from all the top brands immediately understood Raptor’s potential and moved quickly to sign agreements with Ford Global Brand Licensing. They have not regretted that decision.”
A wide range of toys from ride-ons to simulator games are available this holiday season:
- Mattel licenses Raptor for its Hot Wheels and Matchbox brands
- Fisher-Price licenses the highly popular Raptor Power Wheels Ride-On. It is one of the most popular toys at Walmart since its introduction in 2011
- Electronic Arts “Need for Speed” franchise showcases Raptor in its No. 1-selling racing video game, “Need for Speed Most Wanted”
- Microsoft Forza 4’s top-selling racing simulator game counts Raptor as one of its most downloaded vehicles
“Raptor products can be found in nearly every major distribution channel,” said Bentley. “From toy retailers such as Toys R Us, Walmart and Target, to hobby stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels, smaller independent retailers, drug store chains and dollar stores, Raptor is everywhere.”
Raptor isn’t limited to toy trucks, remote-controlled trucks and video games; replicas are now available in almost every imaginable form for kids to enjoy, including 3D puzzles and sketchbooks.
It is a global phenomenon licensed by companies in Canada, Germany, Japan, China and Brazil, so children all over the world can enjoy the fun of Raptor.
“Although it is a very American truck, Raptor is truly global in its appeal and is sought by companies everywhere,” said Bentley.
Santa to Swap Outdated Ride for 30-MPG-Plus Ford Transit Connect Wagon Sleigh with Leading Cargo Rating
- Santa Claus joins vehicle buyers who rate fuel economy their No. 1 purchase reason by selecting the all-new 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon for his next sleigh
- Powered by EcoBoost® with a projected 30 mpg-plus, the Transit Connect Wagon sleigh will offer the industry’s leading presents per gallon (ppg) cargo rating
- Ford today revealed the new sleigh concept, designed to maximize Claus’s fuel efficiency when he travels millions of miles around the globe delivering presents
- Claus’s future upgrade to a Transit Connect Wagon sleigh comes as a record number of children earn spots on the “nice” list, increasing the payload weight of his bag of presents beyond the normal tow rating of his nine-reindeer team
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 21, 2012 – Ford is helping Santa Claus save future Christmases with an all-new 2014 Transit Connect Wagon sleigh. Due to larger-than-ever numbers of children on his “nice” list, Claus needed a new sleigh with maximum fuel economy and cargo space to efficiently deliver all his presents around the world.
Ford designed a concept sleigh for Claus based on its Transit Connect Wagon, powered by EcoBoost®, that offers 30 mpg-plus and an industry-leading presents per gallon (ppg) cargo rating. As an added benefit, the EcoBoost engine – which is finely tuned for high-speed performance – would offer speeds much faster than Claus ever traveled in his former 36-hoofpowered sleigh.
Claus says changing his mode of transportation will not compromise his ability to remain true to his mission.
“My goal is and always has been giving presents to good girls and boys, and a new sleigh will make that process more effective,” he says. “Let’s face it, every year there are more children who earn presents. Things are simply getting out of control, and my old sleigh just isn’t going to be able to hack it much longer. With the new sleigh, I will be able to travel faster and carry more toys.”
Ford engineers developed the Transit Connect Wagon sleigh concept weeks after hearing of Santa’s dilemma during cold-weather testing in the North Pole.
“This is a winning situation for all,” says Darren Goddard, chief engineer for Ford Transit Connect Wagon. “The increased efficiency means added time for Santa to enjoy milk and cookies at stops. His new ride will offer 100 cubic feet of cargo space and versatility to haul up to 2,000 pounds, which Santa will need.”
Reindeer spokesperson Dasher says the nine reindeer look forward to some time off. Every year, the flying animals travel 124,421,726 miles and they’d like some time to rest, he says, explaining there are still splinters embedded in his hoofs from a particular wooden roof in southern Indiana.
“You really can’t beat this new sleigh,” says Goddard. “It offers outstanding fuel economy without sacrificing power. It even offers an electric windshield defroster, making short work of icy windshields in wintry conditions. So, if there’s a foggy Christmas Eve, we won’t need a red-nosed reindeer to guide Santa around the world.”
Other reasons Claus chose a sleigh based on the all-new 2014 Transit Connect Wagon:
- Anticipated to be the gas mileage leader among seven-passenger vehicles, Transit Connect Wagon is projected to deliver at least 5 mpg better fuel economy on the highway and 2 mpg better in the city than a Toyota Sienna minivan
- SYNC® with MyFord Touch® offers a touch screen display with navigation so Claus can easily find all the good children, even in more remote areas
- The child observation mirror would allow him to keep a close eye on his gifts in the second and third row
- From its 60/40 three-passenger second-row bench seat through fold-flat second- and third-row seating with third-row independent fore-and-aft sliding capability, Transit Connect Wagon quickly adapts to accommodate multiple combinations of elves and presents
- MyKey® programmable ignition key restricts maximum speed should a mischievous elf get behind the wheel while Claus is down a chimney leaving gifts
- With eight cupholders, Claus and his elves would have plenty of space to take along a few glasses of milk as they continue through their busy night
- Rain-sensing wipers would keep Claus on the move as there’s always a chance he’ll encounter nasty weather
“As always, we are busy making toys and checking long lists,” says Claus. “That said, Merry Christmas to all!”