Page 25 - 3D Metal Printing Winter 2019
P. 25

  3D Printing: Ford Is on Board 3D and designing systems for what they need
 NASCAR race tickets, including pit passes and the opportunity to meet drivers. The contest resulted in many “incredible” sub- missions, according to Sears.
“By and large, the effort has been suc- cessful,” he says. “Someday we will under- take higher-volume production with this technology, which will require a different skillset for employees across Ford, both hourly and salaried. It’s not about replacing a skilled tradesperson with a machine that prints manufacturing details, it is about giving skilled tradespeople new methods to do things faster and more affordably. We see some skilled tradespeople jumping onboard and doing incredible things— taking the basic training and going further by teaching themselves more advanced CAD techniques and exploring new use cases for the technology. We need that enthusiasm, and we need the right envi- ronment for it to take hold and we are making great progress on both fronts.”
Besides an increase in employee skillsets, Ford’s 3D printing path also tar-
gets employee wellbeing.
“Suppose a technician handles a 5 or 7-
lb. tool on the assembly line,” Sears explains. “A vehicle leaves that line about once per min., so that tool may be handled hundreds of times per day. What if we redesign that tool and reduce its weight to 2 lb.? We’re doing that. Our engineers take to the floor almost as evangelists for the technology, asking questions and looking for solutions to make the job better for everyone.”
Bottom line: Successful AM integration requires a new way of thinking.
“An engineer might come to us with a stamped production part and wonder what it would cost to 3D print,” says Sears. “We won’t go there, as 3D printing loses the battle every time. That part was designed to be stamped. Instead, we try to have our associates look at a part and see what it does—the part’s function, the pieces it connects to, and the part’s entire system. Can the system be redesigned for 3D printing? It’s all about opening up to more creative designs and more efficiency,
to do, not for manufacturability. 3D print- ing provides that ability.”
It’s safe to say that Ford is on board with AM, and, if Sears’ prior experience is any indication, its adoption by the automaker will only grow.
“Twenty-five years ago, as a CAD spe- cialist at Ford, I saw the new stereolithog- raphy machine and started asking ques- tions, and told my supervisor that I wanted to be working with that,” he recalls. “They let me move, and we literally wore down that one machine. My first expansion proj- ect with the technology took us from that one machine to five, and within six months we reached capacity on those five machines. My boss told me that I was sup- posed to look to the future when I planned that expansion...I thought I did!
“But now we are on the fourth expan- sion with this technology,” Sears con- cludes. “Every time I thought we overdid it, but we haven’t yet. 3D printing just keeps growing at Ford.” 3DMP
our app today!
all magazine issues
up to the minute industry news
for upcoming magazine events
                                                    STAY INFORMED... SUBSCRIBE TODAY
Metals are the fastest growing segment of 3D printing.
Now’s the time
to align with the
only publication specifically dedicated to the industry—
3D Metal Printing magazine

   23   24   25   26   27