Ford scales up its 3D-printing experiments

3D printers are great at making small items, but what about large car parts? Ford is trying to scale up automotive 3D printing with tests of a massive Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. Installed at the automaker’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford says the machine is capable of making most large, one-piece car parts. The carmaker is currently trying out the Infinite Build unit to evaluate the viability of 3D-printed parts for future production cars.

The Infinite Build works like other 3D printers, but on a larger scale. Designs are uploaded to the machine from a computer-aided design program, and are printed out one layer at a time. Ford uses its 3D printer to make parts out of plastic, which are fed into the machine from large canisters. When a canister is empty, a robot arm switches it out for a full one.

Ford doesn’t think 3D printing is currently capable of producing car parts in large volumes, but it does believe the process is more cost effective for low-volume parts. The tests focus on parts that could be used on special performance models and race cars, as well as the creation of prototype parts or personalized items for customers. Printing out something like a prototype intake manifold or spoiler is much faster and cheaper than the traditional processes for making these parts, Ford says.

Ford has already experimented with 3D-printed parts. A Ford race car equipped with a 3D-printed intake manifold won the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona, as a matter of fact. But while the Infinite Build 3D printer allows Ford to scale up its efforts, others are thinking bigger. Local Motors has 3D printed entire bodies for its Strati electric car at trade shows, and plans to sell the Strati to customers.

Granted, the Strati is a small, open-topped car with a relatively simple design. It will probably be awhile, if ever, before conventional cars are mass produced with large numbers of 3D printed parts. But who knows, maybe your next Ford Shelby Mustang will have a 3D printed spoiler.

Movies & TV

How Laika blends 3D printing and CGI to make mesmerizing stop-motion movies

With each film, Laika Studios pushes the bar higher for stop-motion animation. We explore Laika's latest techniques for its new adventure, Missing Link, which the studio it calls a Kaleidoscopic travelogue that ranks as its most ambitious…
Cars

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.
Computing

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.
Gaming

Have an issue with your 3DS? We can help you fix it with these common solutions

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.
Cars

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.
Cars

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Cars

This modified Land Rover Discovery is heading to Africa to help fight malaria

A Land Rover Discovery will be used by the Mobile Malaria Project for a 3,900-mile trek across Africa to study malaria. The SUV is equipped with a mobile gene-sequencing laboratory, as well as everything necessary for serious off-roading.
Cars

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.
Cars

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.
Cars

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.
Cars

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.
Cars

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.
Cars

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.