If you’re looking for a new project and can get your hands on a 3D printer, than this just might be the one for you. How about building a 3D miniature version of your favorite new Ford vehicle.
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. Current choices in the Ford 3D shop include the F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Note, this is just for hobbyists, you can’t do this for commercial purposes.
“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.”
Here’s how this all works. 3D-printed models available to order are 1/32nd scale in plastic, but buying 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. For instance, most desktop 3D printers extrude ABS or PLA plastic onto successive layers that eventually form a three-dimensional model. Professional 3D printers can create a model in materials ranging from soft plastics to sandstone and even various metals.
Ford is promising more models down the road. 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.
3D printing is being used for far more than miniature models these days. Local Motors introduced a drivable 3D electric car, the Strati, last year. During one media event, the car’s body, made from ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fiber, was built with a printer, layer by layer, over a 44-hour period. Then, the non-printable parts, like the engine, lights and glass windshield were added.
Local Motors says the goal is to get the Strati cleared by U.S. vehicle rules and regulations and get it on the road sometime this year.