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Ford’s Belle Isle GP Racer Uses 3D-Printed Parts

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3D printed intake manifold

Ford’s entrant at this past weekend’s Belle Isle Grand Prix featured an intake manifold built not by conventional means, but rather by a 3D printer. By using a 3D-printed component, the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype car is just the latest Ford vehicle to benefit from the fascinating technology.

“3D computer printers have totally changed the development process for our Daytona Prototype race cars,” said Victor Martinez, 3.5-liter EcoBoost race engine engineer. “3D printing Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype car has advanced at such lightning speed in recent years that in a matter of hours, we can create real, usable parts for race cars. That’s exactly what we did for the 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year.”

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Ford’s vehicles have been benefitting from 3D printing since 1988, when the automaker purchased only the third 3D printer ever built. This printer was used to create minor pieces like knobs and buttons for prototypes, but as the technology has evolved, so too has its level of involvement in the development process.

The Ford race car that won the 24 Hours of Daytona race this past January—the same that ran this weekend’s Belle Isle Grand Prix—uses 3D-printed parts, and 3D-printed components frequently show up in prototypes used in durability testing. As the technology gradually becomes perfected, it’s quite possible that 3D-printed pieces will be implemented into limited-production vehicles and, eventually, mass-produced vehicles.

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