Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company (5)

Ford fans can now download digital images for Ford vehicles at the first-ever, automaker-authorized one-stop online store for 3D-printable vehicle files. The Ford 3D Store allows customers to use advanced technology to make their own models of Ford vehicles of the size and material they desire, or simply opt to purchase a 3D digital file from a growing library of more than 1,000 Ford images.

“3D printing at home is a growing trend, and it makes sense for us to offer our customers a chance to make their own 3D Ford models,” said Mark Bentley, licensing manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing. “At Ford, we’re using 3D printing every day to rapidly prototype parts, and now we want to share that fun with our fans.”

According to Juniper research, sales of desktop 3D printers will exceed 1 million units by 2018, from an estimated 44,000 sold annually in 2014.

Available 3D-printed Ford models include the new Ford GT, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Printed models and digital files for additional Ford vehicles will be available at a later date.

3D-printed models available to order are 1/32nd scale in plastic, but purchasing a digital image allows users to have a Ford model 3D-printed to the scale and of the material they choose, either from their own printer or from an outside source. Professional 3D printers can create a model in materials ranging from soft plastics to sandstone and even various metals.

TurboSquid, a leader in marketing 3D image files commonly used in video games, built the new site for Ford and will provide order fulfillment.

“TurboSquid already allows customers to purchase more than 1,000 unique, licensed digital images of Ford products ranging from the Model T to the all-new Ford GT,” said Bentley. “We’re at the forefront of licensing 3D automotive images, and it made sense that TurboSquid help us complete that connection to the consumer.”

When a buyer purchases a model or digital image, he or she must register with the site and agree that the item will not be used commercially.

For more information, visit: 3d.ford.com

An important part of the total gaming experience for hardcore video gamers is getting physical feedback through the controller as they keep their eyes on the screen. It’s called haptic feedback. For drivers of performance cars like Ford Mustang, feedback is just as important to understanding how the car is behaving.

Rookie Ford engineer Zach Nelson has harnessed the power of open-source hardware and software, 3D printing, wireless connectivity and Microsoft™ Xbox 360® to bring haptic feedback to a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 through a manual shift knob that vibrates at the optimal time to change gears.

“I wanted to create something that expands the car’s capabilities and improves the experience for the driver,” said Nelson. “I decided to use OpenXC to provide a new kind of feedback for the driver through the shift knob.”

Customization and personalization have been part of the Mustang experience for nearly 50 years. The earliest ads for Mustang proclaimed it as “The Car Designed to be Designed by You!” That spirit continues today, whether following the traditional route of modifying the engines, suspension and body or the modern approach to improving the driving experience through software.

Ford’s open-source OpenXC software and hardware platform enables developers to create apps that leverage the data available through a car’s on-board diagnostics port.

Nelson, armed with a freshly minted mechanical engineering degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined Ford in September 2012 through the company’s college graduate program. His first assignment was at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Mich., where he was introduced to OpenXC.

After learning how to build a mobile app, Nelson designed one that could use real-time engine data, such as revolutions per minute, or rpm; accelerator pedal position; and vehicle speed to calculate the optimum shift points for the manual transmission. The data are transmitted from the car’s OBD-II port to a tablet computer over a wireless Bluetooth® connection using the OpenXC adapter. For testing and development purposes, the tablet uses a USB cable to send the shift knob signals to vibrate like a game controller or phone.

Nelson began by modifying a digital model of the shift knob from a Ford Focus ST, turning it into a hollow shell with room for some extra parts, and printing it with a MakerBot® Thing-O-Matic™.

He installed an Arduino controller with a mini-USB port, LED display, colored LED lights and the vibration motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller.

“The vibrating knob can be installed onto the stock shift lever, and I’ve tested it on several vehicles including Mustang and Focus ST,” Nelson says. “I decided to have a little fun with it and installed an LED display on top that shows the gear position and colored lights that glow from inside at night similar to the ambient lighting in Mustang.”

Moving the system to different vehicles only requires tuning some calibrations in the app to match the torque curve of the car. By monitoring the driver’s style through speed and the throttle pedal, the app automatically adapts its control strategy to suit what it thinks the driver is looking for. The app can be programmed to determine shift points for best performance, comfort or fuel efficiency based on modes selected by the driver.

For performance cars like Mustang, the potential for customization using OpenXC signals that there is a secure future for both tuners and developers alike.

“OpenXC is a great platform for developing connected apps and aftermarket upgrades, or quickly prototyping features that could eventually be incorporated directly into the vehicle,” Nelson says. “The basic concept of my system could be integrated directly into the car, and used on automatic-transmission vehicles with paddle shifters with electric power steering.”

Nelson has posted his app and designs for the knob and electronics on the projects page of the OpenXC platform website.

For more information, visit: www.openxcplatform.com/projects/shift-knob.html

Henry Ford would have felt right at home in Michigan’s latest do-it-yourself workshop, the newly opened TechShop Detroit. After all, Mr. Ford underscores what a “maker” represents, having built his first motorized vehicle in his backyard shed.
 
What is a maker?
 
It’s an individual within a growing movement of people interested in turning their ideas into reality – whether these are one-off art objects or potentially marketable products – someone who might not have the tools or know-how to get it done.

TechShop is located in Fairlane Business Park, a Ford Land-owned property. Ford Land helped bring TechShop to Metro Detroit with assistance from Bill Coughlin, CEO of Ford Global Technologies. Leading the domestic auto industry’s only intellectual property team with a licensing arm, Coughlin shares this vision to help drive innovation among Ford engineers.
 
“Innovation and invention are at the core of Ford Motor Company,” he says. “When I heard about TechShop and how they are inspiring and helping a new generation of inventors, I had to find a way to lure them to Detroit. Not only is it a great opportunity for the community, but it will be a strategic tool to spur creativity and new ideas within the Ford engineering community to help us continue to build our intellectual property portfolio.”
 
Ford Global Technologies is enhancing the Employee Patent Incentive Award program so that inventors now get a free three-month membership to TechShop Detroit for submitting an invention worthy of patent consideration. Since launch in 1988, this program has provided financial rewards to Ford employees who submit approved inventions.
 
Coughlin estimates about 2,000 incentive memberships will be provided to Ford employees this year. Since the program was initiated at the beginning of the year, invention submissions are up more than 30 percent versus last year.
 
Ford has a portfolio of more than 17,000 issued and pending patents around the world, and – as a technology company – needs to be at the very forefront of automotive innovation. With TechShop in close proximity, Ford’s employees in Dearborn will be able to easily and quickly build prototypes for almost any inventive solution they can conceive.
 
“By collaborating with TechShop Inc. to bring this new facility to southeast Michigan, we hope both to inspire and enable some of the great minds that live in this region to create, experiment and invent,” said Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader, Ford Research and Innovation. “At TechShop, the many creative people including talented engineers, designers and scientists who work in the auto industry can exercise their imaginations and innovate well beyond their usual job description.”
 
Dozens of Ford employees have already received TechShop awards for a variety of ideas that may be incorporated into future Ford vehicles, or licensed to other companies.
 
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Ford – a company that truly embraces the open innovation model – to drive innovation in the Greater Metro Detroit area,” said Jim Newton, TechShop founder. “TechShop provides a great resource to Ford employees and the many other local entrepreneurs looking to incubate new technologies, as part of Detroit’s growing innovation community.”
 
From laser cutters to computer-aided-design workstations to 3D printers, every TechShop is outfitted with tools that Henry Ford couldn’t even imagine when he built his first cars more than a century ago. While much of this equipment is still well beyond the means of most tinkerers, memberships that start at just $99 a month enable everyone to be creative. All Ford employees and retirees will qualify for a 50 percent discount on TechShop memberships.
 
TechShop was launched in 2006 in Menlo Park, Calif., near the heart of Silicon Valley where much of the technology that makes modern life possible was born. While Ford is in the midst of opening its own Silicon Valley Lab, it’s fitting the newest workshop opens in America’s industrial heartland, adjacent to Ford’s product development campus.
 
Along with access to tools, members can take beginner to advanced-level classes with TechShop Dream Consultants on how to use the tools, and bounce ideas off other members. The Allen Park facility includes 17,000 square feet of shop space, classrooms, a creative brainstorming lounge and a retail store offering convenience materials and consumables.
 
Every TechShop membership includes:

  • Use of all tools and equipment (safety and basic usage class required for some)
  • Spacious workshop with large worktables with 115-volt outlets and compressed air
  • Use of computer workstations with software including Autodesk Inventor suite
  • Wi-Fi® with high-speed Internet access
  • Free member-only meet-ups and other special events
  • Fresh-brewed coffee and hot popcorn

Members can also rent storage space for their projects as well as a limited number of private workshop spaces.
 
“If Henry Ford were starting today, he would almost certainly be a member of TechShop Detroit,” Prasad said.
 
Ford and TechShop – the membership-based workshop and fabrication studio – will host a Grand Opening celebration that spans the entire weekend of Saturday, May 5 through Sunday, May 6, 2012, both days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the new location in Allen Park at 800 Republic Drive. TechShop Detroit is the result of collaboration between TechShop Inc., Ford Motor Company, Ford Global Technologies and Ford Land.

Founded in October 2006, TechShop, Inc. is a membership-based, do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop and fabrication studio, providing access to a vibrant community of highly creative people and more than $1 million worth of high-quality machines, tools, and software. TechShop offers instruction for people of all skill levels to get them started using TechShop’s tools and equipment. With plans to expand nationally, TechShop is based in Menlo Park, CA, with current locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Raleigh, NC, and Allen Park, MI.
 
For information and course listings, visit: www.techshop.ws

Microscopic cells are helping to save weight, and ultimately fuel in future Ford vehicles, starting with the instrument panel of the all-new Escape. It is the first time the MuCell process has been used in an instrument panel and the largest automotive component molded using the process.

Invented by MIT, and subsequently acquired by Trexel in 1995, the MuCell process was initially created for development and commercial use in the injection molding industry worldwide. The MuCell process involves the highly controlled use of a gas such as CO2 or nitrogen in the injection-molding process, which creates millions of micron-sized bubbles in uniform configurations, lowering the weight of the plastic part.

"Ford is focused on leveraging innovations in materials that save weight and boost fuel economy, helping our vehicles travel farther on less gas," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development. "MuCell is a great example of this effort."

Creating the instrument panel structure in microcellular foam saves an estimated $3 US/vehicle vs. solid injection molding. Weight also is reduced by more than 1 lb., molding cycle time is reduced 15 percent and molding clamp tonnage is reduced 45 percent.

"We are pleased that Ford recognizes the immense potential MuCell holds for vehicle cost and weight savings," said Steve Braig, president and CEO of Trexel. We're now working with Ford to apply the MuCell process in a strategic way for many more applications as they incorporate MuCell into their design guidelines."

MuCell first makes its debut in the instrument panel (IP) of the all-new Ford Escape, helping to reduce the weight of the IP by one pound. Weight savings of a little more than one pound may seem insignificant, but plastic parts are an area where it is particularly challenging to save weight without sacrificing strength, durability or function.

This innovative microcellular foaming technology also saves petroleum as well as reducing overhead and energy costs by reducing the amount of time it takes to produce plastic parts.

The MuCell process has already been used successfully in Ford vehicles in Europe for valve covers, along with heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

The MuCell process is slated for use in the production of instrument panels, along with other applications, in future Ford vehicles beginning next year following its debut in the new Escape.

The all-new Escape which makes its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 16, goes on sale next spring.

MuCell Captures Top Prize

Ford was named the "Grand Award Winner" at 2011 Society of Plastic Engineers "Most Innovative Use of Plastics Awards" competition for MuCell instrument panel innovation on the 2013 Ford Escape. The Society of Plastics Engineers awarded Ford the honor at the association's 41st Auto Innovation Awards Competition on November 9th.

In total, Ford engineering teams won four of the competition's eight categories including Body Interior, Chassis/Hardware, Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies and Safety.

Over the four decades the plastics' competition has been held, Ford has been a leader by driving new technology with industry-first new plastic materials and processing innovations. Twenty Ford teams submitted projects and four of those teams won in the eight possible categories.

For more information about the process, visit: www.trexel.com/injection-molding-solutions/index.php

Ford and TechShop have announced that Allen Park, Mich., is the home of TechShop Detroit, the communal fabrication studio where everyday inventors, from backyard tinkerers to tech-savvy engineers, can come and create their very-own homegrown innovations.

Set to open in Allen Park, Mich., TechShop Detroit is the culmination of a year's worth of collaboration between Ford and TechShop, the world's first and largest membership-based do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop enterprise that also has locations in California and North Carolina.

Ford is the first automaker to work with TechShop to open one of its centers, which offer creative minds of all kinds affordable access to tools, machinery and even "dream coaches" so they can design and develop prototypes of their latest inventions, both automotive and otherwise.

"We are excited to see what started as a simple idea and conversation between Ford and TechShop take physical form so quickly," said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies, the domestic auto industry's only internal intellectual property management and licensing group. "We want this space to inspire all inventive individuals and communities in and around Detroit to innovate and create."

Ford and TechShop first met up in spring 2010 at the largest DIY showcase, Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., where Ford was invited to display an open innovation app creation project that company researchers developed with University of Michigan students. That gathering helped ignite the duo's idea for TechShop Detroit, which was announced only a year ago at the first Maker Faire Detroit.  

Mark Hatch, TechShop CEO, is thrilled to see TechShop Detroit become a reality so quickly and envisions limitless possibilities for the location, especially considering its proximity to the Ford engineering campus, nearby universities and the downtown area. According to recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of under-35 college-educated creatives taking up residence in downtown Detroit is on the rise, bucking the city's overall population decline over the past 10 years.

"Detroit is a market area full of talented communities of makers, hobbyists, backyard mechanics and general tinkerers that continues to grow," said Hatch, who already has more than 1,500 TechShop members registered at his California and North Carolina workshops. "We are excited to open TechShop Detroit and continue our collaboration with Ford to offer an affordable place to go that has the necessary equipment and resources to make inventive ideas a reality."

With more than $1 million invested in high-tech equipment alone, TechShop Detroit will feature everything from top-quality prototyping tools and industrial-grade sewing and textile equipment to laser cutting, welding and machine shop-type gear.

TechShop Detroit will be located in the Fairlane Business Park at 800 Republic Drive in a Ford Land-owned property.

Hub of ideas

The official arrival of TechShop to Detroit is also fueling another vision that Ford Global Technologies hopes to bring to life just as quickly and at the same address — a first-of-its-kind intellectual property exchange and technology showroom where everyday inventors, industry insiders, universities and research labs can display and even license their automotive innovations and other ideas.  

"This showroom idea can be considered TechShop 'Plus,'" said Coughlin. "It will be an open meeting place that will enable inventors to showcase what they create in TechShop and then negotiate, network and even sell their idea to players in the automotive industry, from manufacturers and suppliers to research institutions and startups."

The Innovation Exchange concept is a brick-and-mortar extension of the Detroit-based AutoHarvest Foundation, a new non-profit organization set up by several respected automotive executives to help connect the auto industry with metro Detroit's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ford Global Technologies, along with other automakers, suppliers, universities and research centers actively support AutoHarvest.

What's unique about the AutoHarvest connection, said Coughlin who serves as chairman of the group's Innovation Advisory Council, is that it gives the technology exchange showroom concept and those that use it an established collaborative and secure online platform where intellectual property is shared but also properly protected.

"Selling your technology can be difficult and daunting," he said. "The Innovation Exchange is all about helping spread the word about the innovation occurring inside Tech Shop, giving the creator the foundational resources they need to understand how to sell and commercialize their idea and connect with the right players while protecting their intellectual property."  

Managed by AutoHarvest, the Innovation Exchange would be open to the entire automotive community as well as individual makers in other industries, empowering the crowd to help create and bring to market the next must-have technologies.

For more information, visit: www.techshop.ws

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