With a three-year, $7.04 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy along with the urge to advance energy-efficient manufacturing processes, Ford engineers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center have developed a new process for advanced manufacturing technology.
It is called the Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology, or F3T.
Loaded with the data for a specific part, a computer controls two stylus-type tools to work in unison from opposite sides of a blank piece of sheet metal that is clamped around its edges in order to form a three-dimensional shape.
Although traditional manufacturing processes are energy-intensive and take several months, they are still the most efficient method for high-volume tasks.
However, not only does the F3T reduce costs for low-volume production, it also turns a two-to-six-month process into three days – which means faster delivery as well.
In fact, traditional methods can take up to 60 times longer than the F3T.
The F3T marks excellent advancement in prototyping and the production of concept vehicles. Its flexibility also allows for greater vehicle personalization options as well.
Beyond the automotive industry, the F3T looks promising for those in the fields of aerospace, appliance, defense and transportation too.
Paul Obaugh Ford of Staunton Virginia looks forward to the progress to be made with the Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology.