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Ford Introduces Revolutionary New Tool for Automobile Manufacturing



Those interested in future work with manufacturing automobiles can get a glimpse at the high-tech prototyping that they could be a part of by watching a recent YouTube video (seen above) from Ford Motor Company.

This new development in automobile prototyping is called Ford Freeform Fabrication (F3T), and it comes from Ford’s Research and Innovation Center.

During this new process, sheet metal is formed into a 3D shape with two stylus-type tools. The tools work together on opposite sides of the sheet metal. After CAD information and designs are attained, a computer generates the tools’ paths which will control the F3T machine and form the sheet metal into the 3D shape.

The benefit of the F3T system is that it massively cuts down on the time it takes to prototype parts. Currently, the process (without F3T) can take several months–two to six months according to an article on–for a part to move from concept to production.

In addition, the F3T method is much lower cost because it limits the need for specific forming dies, and the engineering of those dies, which can be high-cost and time intensive.

This new prototyping model also cuts down on delivery time, for obvious reasons. What could once take months, now can take days from the time that a CAD model is received. This is about 60 times quicker than traditional methods.

Finally, the F3T method is worth its weight in gold as it applies to research and development, because it will allow a much greater deal of flexibility for virtually no cost. Using this new method, sheet metal parts could be prototyped and completely worked out in a matter of days, leading to more time for experimentation during the R&D phase, and better vehicles going to final assembly.

In short, it’s a very exciting time to be going into automobile manufacturing. Like many other manufacturing sectors, automobile manufacturing is becoming increasingly high-tech over time. One day, current students could be using their STEM skills to utilize technology like this on a regular basis.

Video courtesy of Ford Motor Company via YouTube.

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