The Ford automotive group is increasingly turning to 3D printing to make its manufacturing processes more efficient and environmentally friendly. The company operates its own 3D printing labs at its Valencia and Cologne plants. Since 2017, Ford has saved more than $4 million by using 3D-printed components in transmission manufacturing.
A prime example is the novel copper induction tool used to heat treat shift sleeves in the Ford Transit transmission. Unlike conventional tools, it distributes the heat of over 800 °C evenly, ensuring more stable components. It also produces less scrap and reduces CO2 emissions thanks to solar energy.
“Copper is not normally used in 3D printing, but our team was determined to find a solution,” said Stefan Zimmermann, head of manufacturing and plant planning at Ford. “We see a clear benefit for our customers that will improve their fleet operations.”