Ford’s New Fabrication Technology Cuts Prototype Process to 3 Days

( Ford has developed a unique, patented manufacturing process to form shape in mere hours versus the normal six to eight weeks needed to produce dies and molds for a custom part. The new process is called Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology (F3T).

With F3T, a piece of sheet metal is clamped around its edges and formed into a 3D shape by two stylus-type tools working in unison on opposite sides of the sheet metal blank. This new prototyping machine functions similar to a digital printer, after the CAD data of a part are received, computer-generated tool paths control the F3T machine to form the sheet metal part into its final shape to therequired dimensional tolerances and surface finish.

Once fully developed, F3T will allow for lower costs and ultrafast delivery times for prototypes – within three business days versus conventional methods that take anywhere from two to six months.