(p. B1) Ford Motor Co. is experimenting with a new form of 3-D printing the auto maker says could solve a structural flaw that has kept the technology from widespread use in manufacturing.
The ability to “print” parts within an assembly plant would drastically reduce transport and logistics costs for the auto industry, where car makers must source parts from dozens of suppliers around the world. But the most widely used version of the technology is ill-suited for mass production because objects are printed layer by layer, a slow process that also creates tiny fault lines that can crack when stressed.
A startup backed by Alphabet Inc.’s Google Ventures is developing a different 3-D printing method that some manufacturers, including Ford, say shows more promise. Carbon3D Inc.’s printers project light continuously through a pool of resin, gradually solidifying it onto an overhead platform that slowly lifts the object up until it is fully formed. The process takes a fraction of the time of other printing methods, and forms solid items more similar to those created using conventional auto-part molds, said Ellen Lee, who leads a 3-D printing research division at Ford.
For the full story, see:
LORETTA CHAO. “Fast 3-D Printing Earn New Respect.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., April 26, 2016): B1 & B4.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 25, 2016, and has the title “Auto Makers, Others Explore New Roles for 3-D Printing.”)