In an attempt to build future vehicles or improve upon current models, many automakers have turned to 3D printers to create and test new prototype parts. Considering how important new cars are, you’d think automakers would spare no expense when acquiring such tools, but Ford is proving that 3D printers are not only affordable, but that they could someday become a household answer for many problems.
To show just how fast and easy the process works, Ford shows one of its engineers using a MakerBot 3D printer costing less than $1,000 to create multiple prototype parts for a manual transmission shifter. This process allows the automaker create new parts to test in the real world. In the past, Ford has used its 3D printers to create everything from small components like the shift knob up to bigger pieces like an F-150 exhaust manifold or brake rotors for the Explorer.
Scroll down to watch Ford’s MakerBot create the prototype shift knob out of thin air.