Jan 30, 2019 | By Thomas

American motor giant Ford is putting 3D printing technology to a variety of uses, resulting in vehicles—real and replica—of the highest quality. The legendary car company uses 3D printing as a fast and cost-effective way to create prototype parts and experiment with a whole range of different designs in a short space of time. Now the company is claiming a record for the largest 3D-printed metal part for a working vehicle in automotive history. That vehicle is Ken Block's "Hoonitruck" Ford pickup.

The “Hoonitruck” is the star of Ken Block's latest Gymkhana 10 video. It is based on a 1977 Ford F-150 and has the same twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine as the Ford GT, tuned to deliver more than 900 horsepower.

Yet this project would not have even been possible without some groundbreaking engineering by Ford Performance and researchers in Germany. Ford Performance engineers in the U.S. ran engine performance simulations and collaborated with a team of Ford research engineers based in Europe to design the part and conduct structural analysis. Working together with RWTH Aachen's Digital Additive Production DAP Institute (in cooperation with University of Applied Sciences Aachen - BMBF funding of strategic investments at universities of applied sciences), in Germany, the team built an intricate aluminium intake manifold that supplies air from the turbochargers to the engine's cylinders.

"We are fortunate to have access to incredible technology, but this was one project that pushed us – and our computing power – to the absolute limit," says Raphael Koch, engineer, Advanced Materials and Processes, Ford of Europe. "The manifold has a complex web‑like structure that couldn't be made using traditional manufacturing methods. We ended up dissolving the support systems in acid."

3D printing offers design flexibility to help reduce weight and improve performance. Weighing almost 6 kilos (13 pounds), the manifold for the “Hoonitruck” took five days to print. Creating the complex shapes in one smooth piece would have been impossible without 3D printing, according to Mr. Block.

“I think Ford did an exceptional job. This is my favourite part of the ‘Hoonitruck’. You could not have made it any other way,” said Block.

Ford has previously won awards from the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers for 3D printed parts that went into Ford Ranger and Mustang vehicles.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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