Ford Performance, Dearborn, Michigan, USA, has collaborated with a team of research engineers based in Europe to design and manufacture what is said to be the largest metal additively manufactured part for a working vehicle in automotive history. The part is installed in the ‘Hoonitruck’, a 1977 Ford F-150 with a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine, owned by Ken Block, star of popular Youtube-based automotive racing series Gymkhana.
To produce the part, an intricate aluminium intake manifold that supplies air from the turbochargers to the engine’s cylinders, Ford Performance engineers in the US ran engine performance simulations and collaborated with a team of Ford research engineers based in Europe to design the part and conduct structural analysis.
The part was then manufactured at RWTH Aachen’s Digital Additive Production Institute, Aachen, Germany. The entire build process to produce the manifold, which weighs almost 6 kg, was reported to have taken five days.
Raphael Koch, engineer, Advanced Materials and Processes, Ford of Europe, stated, “We are fortunate to have access to incredible technology, but this was one project that pushed us – and our computing power – to the absolute limit. The manifold has a complex web‑like structure that couldn’t be made using traditional manufacturing methods. We ended up dissolving the support systems in acid.”
“I think Ford did an exceptional job,” stated Block. “This is my favourite part of the ‘Hoonitruck’. You could not have made it any other way.”