Ford has developed a new technology to rapidly form sheet metal, allowing the company to deliver prototypes in as little as three business days.
The same process would previously have taken between two and six months, but Ford says its news system opens the door for more concept vehicle production and and personalization. The automaker calls it “Ford Freedom Fabrication Technology” (F3T). It clamps a piece of sheet metal around the edges and uses two stylus tools working on opposite sides to form the shape.
It takes months to prepare traditional stamping methods before the first pieces can be formed. Those methods are much more efficient for large-scale production, but creating a stamp to manufacture a small number of panels is costly and slow because of long lead times associated with die engineering, construction and machining.
Ford says F3t adds the potential for buyers to customize the body work on their cars, but that the system is also applicable for the aerospace, defense and appliance industries.
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