Using reverse engineering, Ford designs Michigan Central Station

A historical user of the technology, Ford has employed additive manufacturing for many years. If usually 3D printing allows the automaker to design parts for cars, the American company has this time used 3D technologies to renovate the Michigan Central Station. Located southwest of Detroit, the station stopped welcoming travelers and trains in 1988. This is why, since 2018, Ford has decided to renovate the premises to make it a campus dedicated to innovation. capable of accommodating 5,000 employees. Thanks to 3D technologies, the car manufacturer wants to reproduce the damaged architectural elements adorning the windows and ceilings of the old station.

By opting for 3D technologies, Ford has maximized its chances of reproducing the various elements of Michigan Central Station as faithfully as possible. Harold Sears, Technical Manager of Additive Manufacturing Technologies at Ford, said: Ford could have decided to simply upgrade Michigan Central Station. But they go to great lengths to make sure this thing really reflects the look and feel of this building inside and out. To do this, the American company turned to reverse engineering, or retro-engineering. A technique that is regularly found in the automotive industry, in particular to design parts for old cars whose plans are unavailable. For example, this method was used to restore a 1919 Harley Davidson.

Photo credits: Ford

Le reverse engineering at the heart of the project

By combining scanning and 3D printing, the teams in charge of the project managed to design nearly 550 replicas of rosettes and watermarks. And thanks to the possibilities offered by modeling, the professionals were able to make slight modifications in order to offer new characteristics to the parts. For example, they added hangers to decorations so they could hang them in certain places. In addition, from the benefits of 3D printing, Ford explains that the 3D printed replicas are much lighter than the originals. Finally, the company says it used thermoplastics, without specifying which ones, to manufacture them.

If the work is still ongoing, Michigan Central Station should be able to accommodate Ford teams in early 2023. Bob Bedard, additive manufacturing plastics supervisor at Ford, concludes: “ Part of our motivation as a company is to introduce new technologies into production applications when they are ready, and to always innovate to find a better, more sustainable and safer way to get things done. It’s a beautiful thing that we can do this for this priceless landmark.«

What do you think of the restoration of the Michigan Central Station made by Ford? Share your opinion in the comments of the article. Find all our videos on our channel YouTube or follow us on Facebook or Twitter !

Cover photo credits: Ford

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.