Ford Expands Collaboration to Digitally Manufacture Parts; Renews Commitment to Global Business Redesign

A digitally manufactured electric parking brake bracket for the Ford Mustang GT500. // Photograph Courtesy of Carbon

Ford Motor Co. continued its push to the future at the North American International Auto Show. Today, the Dearborn-based automaker revealed the first digitally manufactured polymer parts resulting from its partnership with Carbon, a Silicon Valley-based digital manufacturing company.

Ford also outlined the progress of the global redesign of its business operations.

The digitally manufactured parts include Ford Focus HVAC lever arm service parts, Ford F-150 Raptor auxiliary plugs for a niche market, and Ford Mustang GT500 electric parking brake brackets. The companies jointly presented the applications at the Additive Manufacturing for Automotive Workshop at NAIAS.

“The automotive industry shows significant promise for using digital fabrication at scale, and our work with Ford is a perfect example of the kind of innovation you can achieve when you design on the means of production,” says Joseph DeSimone, CEO and co-founder of Carbon.

The parts are made using Carbon’s 3-D printers, its proprietary Digital Light Synthesis technology, and EPX (epoxy) 82 material. Carbon’s EPX 82 proved ideal for these parts, passing Ford’s rigorous performance standards and withstanding critical requirements such as interior weathering; short- and long-term heat exposures; UV stability; fluid and chemical resistance; flammability; and fogging for the selected applications.

Also today, at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit, Ford highlighted its commitment to reinvent the future of mobility by transforming the company through operational fitness and allocating capital to high-growth and high-margin product segments and smart vehicles and services.

“Over the last 19 months, we have worked to reshape and transform our company – sharpening our competitiveness, taking actions to improve our profitability and returns, and investing in our future,” says Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford. “These actions support our drive to satisfy today’s customers – and those of tomorrow.”

Jim Farley, president of global markets for Ford, shared details of the company’s major global product wave, which focuses on trucks, commercial vehicles and SUVs. “We are now beginning to see the results of our capital shift away from traditional sedans to trucks and SUVs with new utility nameplates globally, including Territory in China, Bronco, and a slightly smaller, yet-to-be named off-roader in North America,” Farley says. “2018 was a growth year for F-Series, especially Super Duty in North America. Transit and Ranger are now in all global markets in high volume with great potential.”

Bob Shanks, Ford’s CFO, reported positive company operating results despite external challenges that include commodity costs, unfavorable exchange effects, and policy changes. He also cited other factors, including a decline of business in China and higher warranty costs in North America.

“For 2019, we see the potential for year-over-year improvement in company revenue, EBIT, and adjusted operating cash flow,” Shanks says. “Our imperative to sustain an investment grade rating and a strong balance sheet remains the foundation of our business. For 2019, we expect to be able to fully fund our business needs, while maintaining cash and liquidity levels at or above our target levels.”

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