Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., Steeda Autosports makes a complete line of Ford-based accessories. Ranging from stunning wheels to shocks and springs to chrome radiator caps, the products make Ford cars drive better and look impressive. The Steeda aftermarket Cold-Air-Intake Kit, for example, adds 60 hp to the 5 L 2011 Mustang GT.
This spyder-chrome version is the production version of the 3D printed version of the wheel.
“ZPrinting prototypes is doing for our product development what our parts do for sports cars,” said Aric Pogel, design engineer, Steeda. “We’re moving faster, shaving weeks off our new product introduction cycles, and saving $3,000 per product in machining and moldmaking costs.”
This is the prototype 3D version.
For parts like oil caps and hood pin plates, 3D printing replaces CNC machining of early prototypes, saving three days on each new product. For more organic shapes like the molded tubes in the cold-air intake kits, 3D printing makes it easy for Pogel’s team to test a range of sizes and shapes for performance and fit. When the design is done, Pogel provides the mold maker with a final ZPrinted model. Instead of reading from documents, the mold maker scans the prototype and converts it into a mold. It’s always accurate on the first try.
Prior to 3D printing, Steeda engineers would repeatedly go back and forth with mold makers revising mold designs until they settled on the final shape and fit. The new process saves time, money, and revision cycles.
Steeda occasionally bolts ZPrinted parts directly to an engine, as with an airflow measurement device that helps Steeda make critical design decisions. Pogel’s team also ZPrints prototypes to give the sales force a preview of upcoming products, as with the company’s new line of Spyder wheels.