Ford develops 3d-printed locking wheel nuts to help keep thieves at bay

Ford develops 3d-printed locking wheel nuts to help keep thieves at bay

As car security systems become increasingly more sophisticated, thieves are targeting car parts instead, including alloy wheels. One method to deter wheel thieves is to use locking nuts, one on each wheel, which require a special adapter, or key, to loosen. But even these are not invulnerable.

Voicepattern defines the nut’s shape
Together with EOS, a leading supplier for high-end solutions in additive manufacturing, Ford has createdlocking nuts with contours based on the driver’s voice. Like an iris scan or a fingerprint, a person’s voice can be used as a unique biometric identification. Engineers record the driver’s voice for a minimum of one second, saying something like “I drive a Ford Mustang”,and use software to convertthat singular soundwave into a physical, printable pattern. This pattern is then turned into a circle and used as the design for the locking nut’sindentationand key.

For news releases,photos and video, visit www.fordpers.be, www.fordmedia.euor www.media.ford.com. Follow www.facebook.com/fordofeurope, www.twitter.com/FordEuor www.youtube.com/fordofeurope2With thegeometry in place, the nut and key are designed as one piece, then 3D-printed using acid and corrosion resistant stainless steel. When finished, the nut and key are separated, with a small amount of grinding required to make them ready for use.The design also includes second level securityfeatures that prevent the nutfrom being cloned or copied. The unevenly spaced ribs inside the nut andindentations that widenthe deeper they go prevent a thief from making a wax imprint of the pattern, as the wax breaks when it is pulled from the nut. If not using the driver’s voice to create the contours, the nuts could feature designsspecific to a vehicle, such as with the Mustang logo,oruse the driver’s initials. The design could alsotake inspiration from a driver’s interest, for example, by using the outline of a famous racetrack.

Expanding the use of 3D printing
3D printing, or additive manufacturing,offers design flexibility to help reduce weight,improve performanceand create parts that wouldn’t be possible using conventional methods. For more than 30 years, Fordhas increasingly used 3D printing to make prototype parts which help reduce the development time for new vehicles. The companyhas also usedthis technologyto create partsthat feature in the Ford GT, Focus and MustangGT500, and will make more 3D-printed parts in the future.Special bespoke car partsare also 3D printed, includingthe intake manifold in Ken Block’s Hoonitruckand the pair of wind louvres found on the M-Sport Ford Fiesta World Rally Championship car.On the Ford production line, 3D printing is used to create assembly line tools that are up to 50 per cent lighter, which makes repetitive tasks less physically stressful and helps improve manufacturing quality. As many of thesetools are made of nylon, Ford has introduced a recycling programme thatturnsold 3D-printedpiecesand plasticsfrom manufacturing areas into 100 percent recycled nylon.Ford also creates 3D-printedsafety equipment, such as protection sleeves for rotating tools used on the production line, which prevent operators from incurring finger and arm injuries.

 

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