Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, has partnered with EOS GmbH, Krailling, Germany, to develop a unique anti-theft locking wheel nut for its vehicles. The design concept uses the owners voice pattern to define the physical shape of the lock.
According to the automotive manufacturer, as car security systems become increasingly more sophisticated thieves are targeting car parts instead, including alloy wheels. While current locking nuts can be used to deter theft by requiring a key to loosen them, they are not invulnerable.
Ford’s new locking wheel nut concept is designed using a recording of the drivers voice, speaking for a minimum of one second. The recording is then converted into a physical pattern based on the soundwave, which is used as the design for the locking nut’s indentation and key.
The nut and key are metal additively manufactured as one piece in stainless steel on an EOS machine. When complete, the two parts are separated, with a small amount of grinding being required to ready them for use.
The nut and key design also includes second level security features, which help to prevent the nut from being cloned or copied. Because the design features unevenly spaced ribs inside the nut and indentations that widen the deeper they go, a thief would be unable to make a wax imprint of the pattern as the wax would break when pulled from the nut.
Ford stated that design options for the metal AM nuts and keys are not limited to the soundwave pattern. Other designs could include the driver’s initials, or patterns inspired by the driver’s interests, such as the outline of a famous racetrack.
Raphael Koch, Research Engineer, Advanced Materials and Processes, Ford of Europe, stated, “It’s one of the worst experiences for a driver, to find their car up on blocks with all four wheels gone. Some alloy wheels can cost thousands to replace, but these unique rim nuts will stop thieves in their tracks. Making wheels more secure and offering more product personalisation are further proof that 3D printing is a game-changer for car production.”