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Inside Ford's 3D Printing Center Where More Than 20K Parts Are Made Each Year

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the print-and-drive dept.

Businesses 49

Lucas123 (935744) writes 'Ford has been using 3D printing for rapid prototyping since the mid-1980s, but in recent years it has ramped up its efforts adding new machines and materials. A tour of the facility revealed four different methods of 3D printing being used to prototype parts. For example, Ford uses Nylon 11 and laser sintering to make parts that can be retrofitted to working vehicles and tested over thousands of miles. The center also uses binder jet printing to form molds for metal prototypes by laying down layers of sand that are then epoxied together. Just one of its five 3D prototyping centers churns out more than 20,000 parts a year. Today, Ford could not meet new vehicle deadlines without 3D printing.'

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Stamp stamp stamp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168373)

I'm going to use rapid prototyping to produce genetically modified humans, it's called sex.
Hopefully they will have enhanced computing systems, Let's call that brains, but then I have to charge cash money, At this point I will throw around a lot of trendy keywords and post it to slashdot so dice can profit thereby from the sexual computerized content of my creation. Let's call it frankenstein. Then i will eliminate i, it's called death, and now it's all yours, the new prototype in 3D.

It's Not About Plastic Guns (3, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 months ago | (#47168883)

All these things 3D printing can do now. Imagine in 5-10 years what they will be able to create.

And people are having stupid arguments about plastic guns. Talk about a limited vision.

Re:It's Not About Plastic Guns (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47170763)

And people are having stupid arguments about plastic guns. Talk about a limited vision.

It's not a limited vision, it's a disingenuous response to the actual vision that so many corporate masters are having of the day when they can no longer convince people that they are necessary enablers instead of outright parasites.

Re:It's Not About Plastic Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47171285)

Sounds like one of those idiot signs at a OWS protest. Is there something in there that is actually relevant to anything in his post or the story?

Re:It's Not About Plastic Guns (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47171437)

Sounds like one of those idiot signs at a OWS protest.

I'm not responsible for your failures, whether of reading comprehension, extrapolation, or imagination.

Is there something in there that is actually relevant to anything in his post or the story?

Like most technological developments of any note, 3d printing will eliminate entire industries. I'd say it's pretty relevant. In any case, if you don't like a thread, don't reply to it. You're only making the threads you don't like grow.

Re:It's Not About Plastic Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47172287)

And people are having stupid arguments about plastic guns. Talk about a limited vision.

It's not a limited vision, it's a disingenuous response to the actual vision that so many corporate masters are having of the day when they can no longer convince people that they are necessary enablers instead of outright parasites.

Except that in this case, 3D printing is actually being applied on a large scale by one of the very "Corporate Masters" that you are ranting against. So what is it, then? Is Ford shooting itself and its capitalist brethren in the foot?

Fucking clueless socialistoid basement rat.

Re:Stamp stamp stamp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169079)

the only thing rapid in that situation is you

Re:Stamp stamp stamp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169219)

I'm going to use rapid prototyping to produce genetically modified humans, it's called sex.

I wonder if the machine enjoys extruding the filament as much as i do.

Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (0, Offtopic)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 2 months ago | (#47168381)

FORD =
Found On Road Dead
Fix, Overhaul, Repair Daily
Fscked On Rotten Deal
Frightened Of Racing Dodges

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168421)

Ford = Fix it again, Tony

Why did you stick a Fiat joke in here? (1)

clay_buster (521703) | about 2 months ago | (#47168523)

Fiat = Fix it again Tony....

Re:Why did you stick a Fiat joke in here? (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 2 months ago | (#47170743)

You're a dipshit.

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47170423)

Ford = Fix it again, Tony

You're thinking of a FIAT, Dale

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265643)

compared to toyota = stuck accelerator flying you into a wall
or Chevy = don't stick anything on your key and keep your knees stiff if you don't want to die.

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168425)

Fix Or Reprint Daily

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168455)

First On Race Day
Fucking Owns Retarded Dodge

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (1)

bswarm (2540294) | about 2 months ago | (#47168653)

F'd Over Rebuilt Dishwasher

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47168757)

Found On Road Dead

Driver Returned On Foot.

Re:Obligatory FORD Acronym Jokes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47170579)

Pontiac= Poor ol Nigger thinks its a Cadillac.

NS4: I HUNGER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168391)

NS4: more pics! more pics! more pics!

How can I not be a Cynic... (2)

Anna Merikin (529843) | about 2 months ago | (#47168469)

When the information so clearlyy calls for it.

At its Dearborn Heights, Mich. facility, 14 different industrial 3D printers turn out 20,000 parts a year.

H'mm ... that's approx 6 parts per machine per working day.

Not much of a story here, just PR.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (2)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 2 months ago | (#47168557)

I'm wondering how many of those parts could be made on a standard CNC, and if they only use the printers for parts that would be too hard to machine with conventional processes.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168819)

I'm wondering how many of those parts could be made on a standard CNC, and if they only use the printers for parts that would be too hard to machine with conventional processes.

What is it you did not comprehend here... ALL of those parts have to be made with conventional mass production processes. They use the printers for prototyping. It's in the first and second sentences man.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47168573)

Given design, setup/prep, printing/molding, and trim work, that's still quite impressive. Mass producing one thing over and over is easy. Changing your tooling to deal with a new part is what's hard. When I worked in factories, we'd get laid off for a week when it was time to switch products. The engineers needed time to swap everything out. It was equivalent to rearranging a huge house where all the furniture weight over 30tons. I'd imagine these places are setup for lots of rapid changes so it wouldn't be so bad, but it's still probably requires a lot of work. Also, I doubt the workers are your regular linemen. They'd almost have to all be engineers.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (2)

samkass (174571) | about 2 months ago | (#47168915)

Given design, setup/prep, printing/molding, and trim work, that's still quite impressive. Mass producing one thing over and over is easy. Changing your tooling to deal with a new part is what's hard. When I worked in factories, we'd get laid off for a week when it was time to switch products. The engineers needed time to swap everything out. It was equivalent to rearranging a huge house where all the furniture weight over 30tons. I'd imagine these places are setup for lots of rapid changes so it wouldn't be so bad, but it's still probably requires a lot of work. Also, I doubt the workers are your regular linemen. They'd almost have to all be engineers.

When I wrote a bunch of software for InvisAlign over 10 years ago, we were ramping up to a capacity of 20,000 unique plastic parts per day while printing over half of that every day. I can only imagine what they're doing today. The actual printing was mostly stereolithography making molds, pressure forming, then CNC cutting them off, but there was also scanning, modeling, approvals, labeling, mesh cleanup, supports, etc., which all had to happen in 3d. The automation required to get all that humming along was substantial (lots of patents, and not just "on the internet" ones...)

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47168591)

When the information so clearlyy calls for it.

At its Dearborn Heights, Mich. facility, 14 different industrial 3D printers turn out 20,000 parts a year.

H'mm ... that's approx 6 parts per machine per working day.

Not much of a story here, just PR.

Enh, perhaps. The story for me was this:

> Ford has been using 3D printing for rapid prototyping since the mid-1980s

Think of how recently 3D printing has entered common consciousness. Back in the eighties, I managed projects that involved (amongst many other things) creating custom parts via lost wax casting. And I had never heard of 3D printing at the time except as a joke in rec.humor. (The Xerox 3d printer is a great achievement, but the apple tastes of toner. That time the service guy was fixing it when someone accidentally turned it on -- the arm it spat out wrecked the copy room and had to be beaten into submission by security guards.)

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 months ago | (#47168777)

Stereolithography was patented in 1986. I would imagine Ford would be an early adopter (at least to buy one machine to see what they could do with it), so it's not really a claim I'd call completely crazy. This is the GP's point, but for 6 parts per day, that doesn't seem that crazy either - they likely run the machines 24/7 and produce mostly small parts with them.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 months ago | (#47168629)

I doubt they would only run 5 days a week.
4 parts per machine per day

Not really relevant though. If designing parts takes longer than printing them it doesn't matter how fast the printers are.

Some just take a long time to print though

A single binder jet print run can take as little as a week to as much as a month, depending on the job size and deadline

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 months ago | (#47170317)

I'd presume demand varies unpredictably though. Once you do haver a set of designs, you don't really want to wait for more than a day or so for a part if you don't have to, but there are going to be times when no team is in the prototyping stage.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169335)

If you want to be the cynic, you should link your response to the 3D-printed gun story. Maybe Ford has been making untraced guns for 30 years!

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 months ago | (#47170591)

Id be more impressed if it werent CV or Universal joints being printed....
The damned oil burners probably been printing piston rings....

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 2 months ago | (#47172849)

Not much of a story here, just PR.

So the difference between a story, and PR, is the volume of parts made per working day? There are many more interesting things to discuss and learn about 3D printing than solely speed.

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | about 2 months ago | (#47173019)

OK: Here's both barrels.

It used to take five years or more to develop a new model auto, back in the twenties through 60s. This lag time caused bad decisions like the introduction of 12- and 16-cylinder cars in the middle of the Great Depression and Edsels, planned in 1952-3 and introduced in 1958, after the target market had lost their jobs in a deep recession.

These printers doubtless help reduce the time and make carmakers more nimble.

That's the real story, and it is neither in TFA nor the summary.

Call me a cynic....

Re:How can I not be a Cynic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47175387)

I make it nearly 8 ... or do they work Fridays?

News for nerds, stuff that matters (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 months ago | (#47168597)

Company has been doing something for over 30 years, someone hears about it now and its news because its 3D printing?

3D printing is not new, the only thing relatively new is the cost of fused deposition printers.

Re:News for nerds, stuff that matters (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about 2 months ago | (#47168917)

That's correct, it's the fact that the patent expired, and much cheaper devices could be made and sold without problems. However, I do think that 20 years ago, the state of CAD software and processing power wouldn't have had the best time on home computers. The slicers that create the gcode do take a fair bit of number crunching. I think it would have made printing much slower, significantly more so than it already is.

Today, Ford is recalling cars with safety issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168783)

maybe they should take the extra time to do things right instead of bolting on some molded hot glue.

Re:Today, Ford is recalling cars with safety issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168809)

wrong company fuckwit

Re:Today, Ford is recalling cars with safety issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169005)

1.4 million reasons you are wrong, idiot. [cnn.com]

shill for me more, monkey. you are NOTHING.

CNC (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 2 months ago | (#47168873)

Wow. Manufacturing company uses CNC machine to build stuff. Couldn't manage without it. Whatever next?

Re:CNC (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 months ago | (#47168891)

Publishing company uses printer to print books. Couldn't manage without it. Whatever next?

Awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168957)

It means ford makes 20,000 units of shit using 4 different flavors of machine.

What guns? (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 months ago | (#47169067)

So... what kinds of guns has Ford made on their fancy printers? I'd like to see some comparisons of guns made with the four different printing processes.

Re:What guns? (1)

GNious (953874) | about 2 months ago | (#47169721)

As long as none of the guns are made "by laying down layers of sand that are then epoxied together" .... yeah, Epoxy might be strong, but I'd really not trust that gun.

Re:What guns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47170753)

As long as none of the guns are made "by laying down layers of sand that are then epoxied together" .... yeah, Epoxy might be strong, but I'd really not trust that gun.

I got the impression that sand printing may be primarily used for creating casting molds.

Re:What guns? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 months ago | (#47170807)

Are the insides of a gun exposed to temperatures above 60 C (140F)? Then normal epoxy won't hold and the sand comes out the barrel with the gun.
Sand/epoxy printing seems to me to be a high strength relatively low temperature product. Like you need for a press for steel.
For guns they'd use their laser sintered metal 3d printer. Laser sintered metal is sort of like cast iron: heat resistant but brittle. So it won't hold up to many shots.

Great Move!!! (1)

derrick11 (3667575) | about 2 months ago | (#47170869)

Yaay, this is really great move by $F & now they can support old vehicles without needing to worry about inventory.

Technological Advancement!!! (1)

Alex Taylor (3668185) | about 2 months ago | (#47171039)

Such technological advancement will allow $F to maintain its even much better position in automotive industry
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