Page 21 - 3D Metal Printing Winter 2019
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  3D Printing:
  Ford Is on Board
With its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Michigan, the Big Three automaker hopes to grow its 3D printing capabilities for support and production. A first look reveals that Ford is well on its way. BY LOUIS A. KREN, SENIOR EDITOR
“It’s been quite a ride.” That’s Harold Sears of Ford Motor Co.’s Advanced Manufacturing Center.
Sears, additive manufacturing technical leader for manufacturing at the center, is commenting on how his own 28-yr. jour- ney at Ford has dovetailed with the automaker’s additive manufacturing (AM) trek. The ride began in 1988 as Ford, an early adopter of 3D printing, purchased the third stereolithography machine ever produced, according to Sears. The com- pany began making resin prototypes and fixtures using the technology, and has expanded its AM efforts in the years since.
Today, Ford employs 3D printers in 30 of its manufacturing facilities worldwide and counts roughly 90 printers on its AM roster. As of late-summer 2018, Ford’s AM universe revolves around Redford Town- ship, MI. That’s where the company
unveiled its Advanced Manufacturing Center, a $45-million, 100,000-sq.-ft. facil- ity created to help push new technologies into Ford’s manufacturing operations. The center features a host of development efforts, including augmented and virtu- al-reality technology to assist in assem- bly-line work-instruction training and line layout, as well as collaborative-robot cells for a variety of plant-floor applications. Chief among them is 3D printing, as a recent tour by 3D Metal Printing revealed.
“We are bringing technology and peo- ple together to deliver manufacturing solutions that will make Ford Motor Com- pany the global leader in manufacturing efficiency,” Michael Mikula, chief engineer at Ford, explained to those assembled for a grand-opening event this past Decem- ber. “Our 100 employees here collaborate with skilled teams in other regions to
  Ford’s new Ranger pickup, on display at the automaker’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford Township, MI, represents a major investment in 3D printing for production parts and tools.

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