Metal technology is latest manufacturing innovation


Behind every new Ford Focus that goes on sale at forecourts around the country is a manufacturing department which has been breaking new ground in methods of vehicle production for over one hundred years. The last couple of years in particular have seen a number of pioneering developments which have truly made the most of all the technology now available; this is certainly the case with their latest breakthrough, which again promises to significantly reduce both time and cost.  

The company recently patented a process called Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology (or 'F3T'), which will work in much the same way as a digital printer, with computer data accurately deciding the shape that sheet metal should take, then moulding it to the correct dimensions and consistency via two stylus-like tools.  

F3T was developed at Ford's cutting-edge research and innovation centre, and has been described by the group's executive vice president of global manufacturing and labour affairs, John Fleming, as 'yet another example of Ford leading in the advanced manufacturing space', adding that he and his colleagues at the iconic brand 'want to push the envelope with new innovations like F3T to make ourselves more efficient and build even better products'.

It is thought that, whilst large-scale sheet metal stamping projects may not yet be suited to F3T, smaller assignments will benefit in terms of cost, time and flexibility simultaneously; according to research, F3T stamping could be completed 60 times shorter than the existing process, with final delivery potentially taking just three days, as opposed to weeks.

New Ford Fiestas for sale currently in showrooms may not have been made by F3T yet, but excitement is certainly building within the manufacturer's research centres that this process could form a major part of automobile production in the future.  

Image credit: Spenceyc (flickr.com)