The Ford Motor Company has come up with an interesting new variation on digital rapid prototyping. Usually when you talk about Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machines, they fall into one of two categories. The first is a subtractive process where a part is cut out of a block of raw material like a sculpture. The machine removes all of the waste material until all that’s left is the part as defined by the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model. Additive CNC machines, like 3D printers, are a relatively new technology that have recently opened up rapid prototyping to enthusiasts everywhere. These machines build parts by starting with nothing and precisely adding material to the exact shape of the CAD model. What you’re left with is a physical representation of the digital information with no waste material.
Ford’s Freeform Fabrication Technology (F3T) is a new genre of rapid prototyping. Their machine takes existing raw material in the form of mass produced sheetmetal and manipulates it into the desired shape as defined by the CAD model. It appears that two round tip styluses press into the sheetmetal from the top and bottom in order to make the desired bends. After multiple passes, the two machines turn flat sheetmetal into the equivalent of a stamped part. The cool part is the finished product that comes out of the F3T machine should have pretty similar material properties and strength to the equivalent mass produced part without the time and money involved with making expensive dies. Like the other forms of rapid prototyping, this technology will be great for cost effective low production parts.
Ford’s 3-cylinder 1.0 liter Ecoboost engine was designed to replace 1.6 liter naturally aspirated engines while providing 20% better fuel economy, 15% less emissions and more performance. It’s effect on the European small car market won the 1.0 Ecoboost the 2012 Engine of the Year award. To celebrate, Ford Europe outfitted a Formula Ford race car with the 1.0 liter Ecoboost engine and the bare minimum safety equipment to make it street legal. The turbo was upgraded to the bigger unit from the 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine which pumped the output up to 200 hp. Race driver Nick Tandy was able to set a 7:22 around the Nurburgring which ties the time of the Dodge Viper ACR and is faster than a Nissan GT-R while delivering 56 mpg.
Ford Europe gave Chris Harris the opportunity to drive the Formula Ford Ecoboost on the streets and then take it for his own lap around the Nurburgring. The part that I found the most interesting is simply watching Harris’s reaction. He has recently had the chance to drive some of the most cutting edge green technology performance cars and has been uneasy with them. In the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive Harris was wowed by the fact that the controls strategy for the four drive motors could completely change how the chassis reacted but wasn’t completely sold on the fact that the car was a pure EV. When Chris drove the Porsche 918 Spyder, he was very impressed with the car’s performance and engineering, but the thought of applying the same lightweighting techniques to a gas powered car would yield better performance ultimately bugged him. Here Chris just enjoys the car and hardly mentions the green aspect of the Ecoboost engine. It seems as though being able to hear the boost of the turbo and having the characteristic of a tuned engine, albeit a small one, doesn’t rob the driver of the performance experience despite getting good gas mileage.
This episode of Motor Trend’s Epic Drives bit takes us into Death Valley in the Mojave Desert with the 2013 Ford SVT Raptor. I always enjoy this segment because you learn a lot about both the car and the place where they go. Motor Trend has also stepped up the production value of their YouTube content this year probably as a response to their success in 2012. So sit back and enjoy some gratuitous off-roading in the Raptor and Arthur St. Antoine explaining the interesting features of the Mojave Desert.
Motor Trend puts together the latest comparison from the ongoing muscle car war with Chevrolet’s awesome new 1LE handling package for the Camaro SS and Ford’s Track Package for the Mustang GT. The $3500 1LE Package uses huge 10 and 11 inch wide wheels, custom tuned mono-tube shocks, bigger anti-roll bars, a 3.91:1 final drive and some minor driveline enforcement to fix the stock Camaro’s handling problems for track use. Ford’s $1500 GT Track Package includes the anti-sway bars from the GT500, retuned shocks and springs, 19″ wheels with Pirelli summer tires, Performance Friction brake pads, recalibrated ABS and traction control and a shorter (numerically larger) 3.73:1 final drive with carbon fiber clutch plates. The guys put the two cars against each other at the drag strip and then around the Horse Thief Mile at Willow Springs with Randy Pobst behind the wheel.
Ford has got a serious jump start on GM and Chrysler with their EcoBoost technology. Their monster 3.5 liter twin turbo direct injection V6 outperforms the naturally aspirated V8’s in almost all areas while delivering significantly better gas mileage and longevity. It’s a no sacrifice win-win situation brought about by good engineering. Unfortunately sales to the masses don’t always follow proper logic. Ford knew they had a good engine, but they weren’t sure it would be accepted by their core customers. The EcoBoost V6 has seen good sales in the F-150, but Ford was hesitant to pair it with their halo-model Raptor. I think that’s also the reason why we have yet to see an Ecoboost Mustang (though that would be incredibly awesome). The fear was that too many people associated Ford performance with V8’s, but hopefully that will start to change.
One argument for the paradigm shift is this SDHQ built Eco-Raptor. The truck started life as an EcoBoost F-150 whose frame and body got swapped out for Raptor parts. Apparently it was cheaper to do it that way since an EcoBoost crate engine is $17,000. It seems like a lot of work, but the results speak for themselves. The DRIVE crew use a regular 6.2 liter V8 Raptor as the camera platform for this video and they got 11.6 mpg while the EcoBoost equipped truck got 16.8. That’s more than 5 mpg difference with the EcoBoost model making more power while having equivalent offroad capabilities. Like I said, it’s a win-win no compromise situation. More power with less fuel. It is possible to have fun, save money and be environmentally responsible all at the same time. You know we are fully behind these types of movements here at Flux Auto.