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Ford

 

Find out how Ford’s introduction of Ultimaker 3D printers helped them developed customised jigs and fixtures for each individual car they produce. Curious how Ultimaker 3D printing can help your buisness? Contact us using the button below.

Problem

Ford’s pilot plant in Germany, Cologne initialises the creation of new vehicles before they are massed produced. Their small-scale manufacturing line develops cars years before they go into production. Research Engineer Lars Bognar has been trying to optimise workflow at Ford’s Research & Advanced Engineering site in Aachen. In order to do this, he is using an Ultimaker to create tools, jigs and fixtures for Ford’s manufacturing process.

The custom tools that Ford employees have to use are often design for one task and model in particular. The problem is that these tools have to be created externally and require a lot of time and money. In order to get these tools faster, Ford’s team decided that using 3D printing was a solid solution.

So that they could transition into 3D printing effectively an additive manufacturing team was founded, who started with SLS immediately. Although the SLS project was a success, the parts required a lot of post processing. As a result, Ford turned to Ultimaker and their FFF technology to provide a faster and more affordable solution. Additionally, both engineers and local workforces are able to use a 3D printer to create tools they need.

Ultimaker-Ford-tooling

Solution

Ford is now using Ultimaker 3D printers all over Europe, in Spain, Italy and Romania. The team in Germany will send designs electronically, which can then be used the next day, due to the 3D printing software. The Cologne team will make components for the tools for example handles and magnet holders. The design can then be sent to Ultimaker Cura to be printed locally with the Ultimaker S5 machines on site.

 

Ford can now save a considerable amount of money compared to tradition method of manufacture or outsourcing on custom tools. Now the Ford Focus is manufactured using over fifty custom tools, fixtures and jigs. For is also looking into spare parts for the machines on the manufacturing line. By printing parts like these they drastically increase the uptime of the machines and the manufacturing line doesn’t need to be paused for long periods of time. As Ultimaker tools are often strong enough to replace metal tools it increases employee safety as the parts are more ergonomic and easier to use.

 

Ford are expanding the capabilities of 3D printing rapidly, and constantly learning more about the process itself. Lars expanding the range of what can be printed by exploring the possibility of printed spare and final parts. “We want to make the next step, we also want to 3D print spare parts. We want to design for additive manufacturing and be able to print production parts for production vehicles”.

Ultimaker-Ford-Parts

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