3D printing is now entrenched at Ford

While 3D printing was little more than a toy for engineers 20 years ago, today Ford Motor Co. could not develop new cars without it. New technologies ensure it's coming to a production line near you.

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DEARBORN, Mich. -- If you were to put the brakes on 3D printing technology at Ford today, the company's vehicle development would literally come to a screeching halt.

Additive manufacturing at the automaker has evolved from being a niche technology a few engineers toyed with 20 years ago to its integration in the R&D process 10 years ago to the "entrenched" development process it is now.

"We touch a significant portion of the vehicle with 3D printing now," said Harold Sears, technical expert of rapid manufacturing technologies with Ford's manufacturing division. "We're prototyping virtually everything [using 3D printing] from road to roof."

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