Ford and auto digital imaging firm TurboSquid have joined up to create 3D printed models of the manufacturer’s vehicles available at the Ford 3D Store. You can either buy your preprinted blue plastic favorite, like a Ford Raptor or Focus ST, and have it shipped to you, or you can buy and download the file to print your vehicle yourself at home (or on that cool new 3D printer at work).
The exception to the DIY 3D-printed model rule is the brand new version of the Ford GT supercar. For now, you can only buy the preprinted GT in full color (by which they mean blue and black) sandstone from TurboSquid. Mark Bentley, of Ford Global Brand Licensing, notes that the GT is one of the hardest models to print. “That car has a lot going on,” he said in a phone interview, but the file will likely become available in the future.
If you buy and download the file for something like the Shelby GT 350R, you can print it out of whatever material you and your printer can handle. And, while the preprinted models are 1/32nd scale, if you’ve got the file, you can use whatever scale you fancy. One caveat, according to Bentley, is that if you blow up the scale to lawn art size, the details of the model will get fuzzy.
Not that many people are creating lawn art with these files. Most of the hundreds who’ve downloaded files in the store’s first two weeks are at-home hobbyist types, though one user is comparing the 3D model to scans of damaged vehicles, while another downloaded a file for a family vacation 3D printing project.
Ford isn’t only using 3D printing for scale models, though these files are used internally for presentations and advertising. Ford has also partnered with Carbon3D to create full-size prototype parts out of automotive-grade resin. The printed parts are particularly useful for damping, supporting a load, or enduring high temperatures.