Ford Europe: 3D Printing workflow for custom tooling

Ford Europe: 3D Printing workflow for custom tooling


Ford has a dedicated 3D printing team
here in the pilot plant in Cologne The focus here is to implement 3D printing
for production tools and fixtures For the new Ford Focus we were able to implement
more than 50 printed tools for high volume production Which had of course a very big cost impact If you compare our 3D printed tools
to conventional manufactured tools we can easily save approximately €1,000 per tool Which is of course a lot, if you consider all
the tools which are needed to produce a vehicle Ford picked Ultimaker because we think
the quality compared to the cost is very good And we also like the reliability of the printers The open filament system on the
Ultimaker is very important to us We can use different filaments
from different companies We can even use industrial filaments which help us make very durable tools, very
durable fixtures for our high volume production We mostly design the tools here, as we’re
trying those tools on prototype vehicles That means we can really test the tools If we see that the tools work, we can send the
files of the tools to the local plants They can reproduce the tools and use them
for the high volume production of vehicles If an engineer has an idea for a tool or fixture he will load all the data which is
required for the tool in Catia And then he can immediately start to model his tool in the 3D space As soon as he’s finished, he can
take the model, get it to the printer So we are very fast, from start to finish We can optimize our 3D printing workflow by using Trinckle software This software is easy to use as you only have to load your files And then you select from a toolbox the components you need to make up the tool The benefit of making it so easy is that we can design our own tools and fixtures Within a very short period of time Today, only the skilled process engineers are able to design fixtures But in the future we want even an untrained worker to use this software To make their own tools Our roadmap is starting with jigs and fixtures Then we want to make the next step To spare parts, and design for additive manufacturing The ultimate goal is to even print production parts for production vehicles

About the Author: Michael Flood

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