Materials & Assembly
Ford Builds Metal Prototypes With 3D Printing

Ford engineers send CAD files between facilities, then build prototypes at workstations using MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printers.  (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
Ford engineers send CAD files between facilities, then build prototypes at workstations
using MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printers.
(Source: Ford Motor Co.)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing is an exciting space
Ann R. Thryft   1/8/2013 3:49:24 PM
mrdon, thanks for that link. In commenting on an earlier post last year, I expressed the idea that 3D printing could be used for scanning and reproducing museum replicas of various art objects, such as sculptures. Looks like that's being done by more than one artist. Good to see my wish come true.

Charles Murray
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Re: 3D everywhere
Charles Murray   1/8/2013 3:08:23 PM
These parts are truly functional, so they can be used in prototype testing applications. The main reason they don't make it to production is that these techniques wouldn't be practical for huge volumes. In production, automakers can build hundreds of parts per hour. So while it may take weeks to build the production tooling, they get that time back when the tooling is completed and they move to large-scale production. In contrast, the methods mentioned in this article can take hours per part, so while that works for small lots, it doesn't work for volumes in the tens of thousands. In that sense, building a car is a lot different than building a 787. Automotive production volumes are just too big for this technology.

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3D Printing Limitations
apresher   1/8/2013 2:27:12 PM
Chuck, Excellent.  But I think what many of us are interested in is your take on the limitations of the technology ...  in terms of what it can and can't deliver.  Thanks.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D everywhere
Ann R. Thryft   1/8/2013 12:24:06 PM
Chuck, this is great news, although I'm not familiar with the term "surrogate" in 3D printing/AM. I have basically the same question as Lou: are the parts for form and fit only, or are they also functional? And another question: if some of them arfe functional, is this for prototyping or low-end production volumes? Including SLA says prototypes, but LS could be used for production parts.

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Re: 3D printing is an exciting space
mrdon   1/8/2013 12:18:52 PM
Elizabeth M, I agree. This year will be exciting to see all of the innovative products being created using 3D printers. Every Thursday, Adafruit posts blogs regarding the state of 3D printing. Here's the link.https://www.adafruit.com/blog/?s=3D+printing

Elizabeth M
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3D printing is an exciting space
Elizabeth M   1/8/2013 11:38:18 AM
Some of the most impressive gains are being made in 3D printing. I think this is the space to watch this year. This way of prototyping could revolutionize the auto industry and allow manufacturers to bang things out much more efficiently and cost effectively. Will be interesting to see how this evolves and is adopted by other automakers.

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3D everywhere
naperlou   1/8/2013 10:05:56 AM
Chuck, there seems to be an explosion of 3D for prototyping.  I would think that low prodcution rate parts could be made with 3D printing as well.  Of course, for high volume production, injection molding is much faster.  And once the mold is made, it is relatively cheap. 

One thing, though.  You mention parts such as brake disks.  Are these usable as real brakes, or are they just used to test fit and manufacturability.

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