Ford uses additive manufacturing to stop thieves from stealing wheels

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Bespoke biometric wheel nuts are a great antitheft innovation. Expensive alloy wheels can be a target for thieves, but Ford intends to use additive manufacturing as a weapon to defeat those aiming.

To avoid wheel thieves, the car manufacturers have developed locking nuts for the wheel which require a special adapter to loosen, but even these can be cracked for those willing to go to greater lengths such as cloning them.

Ford’s concept is to 3D-print the locking nut and key (in stainless steel) with a design unique to each vehicle, ensuring cloning or copying methods aren’t possible.

And in a nifty touch, that unique pattern can be created from the driver’s voice. Ford engineers will record the driver saying a short sentence, and then use software to convert that sound wave into a printable circular pattern, which is used for the indentation of the locking nut and matching key.

Further security measures to prevent cloning include unevenly spaced ribs within the nut, along with indentations that get wider (further into the nut), and these moves ensure a thief can’t make a wax imprint of the unique pattern – because the wax won’t be able to survive being pulled out of the nut in one piece. The car manufacturer further notes that the voice of the driver doesn’t have to be used to create the pattern for the locking nut, but something simpler could be employed which is still unique to the individual – such as an outline of their favorite racetrack. Ford’s next-generation locking wheel nuts will be produced in conjunction with EOS, a leading outfit in industrial metal additive manufacturing.

Ford cars already contain parts created by 3D printers – including the Ford GT, Focus and Mustang GT500 – and will increasingly make use of these components going forward. And evidently these nifty wheel nuts will be part of that plan.

Wheel security

It’s one of the worst experiences for a driver, to find their car up on blocks with all four wheels gone. Some alloy wheels can cost thousands to replace, but these unique rim nuts will stop thieves in their tracks,(…), Making wheels more secure and offering more product personalization are further proof that 3D printing is a game-changer for car production.”, summarizes Raphael Koch, advanced materials and processes research engineer at Ford, in an interview conceded to TechRadar.

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Darren Allan, Ford is using 3D printing to stop thieves from stealing your fancy alloys published on Jan31, re-edited and published by João Andrade on Feb3 2020;

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