Ford can lay claim to a new 3D-printing milestone. The Ford Performance subsidiary's intake manifold found on Ken Block's 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck is the largest 3D-printed metal part made for a running vehicle ever.
Ford Performance took a closer look at the intake manifold's creation in a video published Tuesday and detailed how intricate the design and engineering process was. Ford and Block dropped a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine under the Hoonitruck's hood, which required—to be blunt—a lot of freaking air.
Engineers concluded they needed to create a bespoke intake manifold for enough air reached the turbochargers, and eventually, the six cylinders buried beneath. Quickly, engineers concluded 3D printers could only build the part.
Enter Ford of Germany.
The automaker operates a 3D printing lab in the country, which took on the project to build the intake manifold. The tool-less production method ensured designers and engineers could craft the exact shape of the part make sure it would send enough air to the turbos and engine. The 3D printing method also made the intake manifold incredibly light. After CAD software finalized the design, it took five days to 3D print the intake manifold layer by layer.
Block said his favorite part of the truck is the intake manifold because it's so cutting-edge. There's no way a machine and cast could make the part, and Block loves the added touch.
Ford is one of a few automakers and companies that experiment and implement 3D-printed components. Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg has made titanium exhausts and variable geometry turbochargers with 3D printers since 2014. Bugatti is also now testing 3D-printed titanium brake calipers for the Chiron supercar.
But for now, Ford can marvel at its masterpiece, on display in "Gymkhana 10."