Ford is creating a new advanced manufacturing process that will lead to cost reduction and decreased time of production, according to a company press release. The technology will enable the company to quickly form sheet metal parts used in low-volume production, and the prototype time will speed up to three business days from two to six months.
In the advanced process, a piece of sheet metal is clamped and pressed into a 3D shape by stylus tools on either side of the metal blank. Current stamping processes are energy-intensive and can take several months from concept to production. Traditional stamping is still the most effective technique for high-volume items, but Ford's new technology will reduce energy use for small quantities of specialized parts.
The new manufacturing technique costs less than traditional stamping because it does not require geometric-specific forming dies or the high manufacturing costs. The process will allow for more flexibility when it is fully developed, and Ford will be able to improve vehicle research and development. Creating a prototype die can take up to two months, and generating a full vehicle requires several months and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The advanced stamping process will create sheet metal parts in a few days for a very low cost.