– Ford continues to improve sustainability in every part of the business, recycling around 2,250 kilograms of car modelling clay last year – or enough to create up to three full-size clay vehicle models
– Ford has been using a proprietary clay recycling machine to recover and reprocess more than 9,000 kilograms of clay in the past five years
– Full-size clay modelling remains a crucial part of the Ford design process, enabling engineers and designers to identify issues that are not apparent on digital or small-scale models
|Image Courtesy GIAFord.|
SOUTH AFRICA, Pretoria, 18th October 2016 – Modelling clay is a favourite of many children, who can craft, re-craft and recycle the pliable stuff over many years. While a bit more advanced, Ford has employed a similar idea with the clay it uses to model future vehicles: craft, re-craft and then recycle, the latter to the tune of around 2,250 kilograms of clay each year.
“We are constantly being influenced by new technologies, but when we want to view physical properties early in the process, we still turn to clay,” says Lloyd VandenBrink, modelling manager at Ford’s Truck Studio in Dearborn, Michigan. “When a design is still fluid, clay allows immediate
reviews and feedback so necessary for working in a collaborative atmosphere.”
And building these models requires a lot of clay. Ford uses up to 90 tons of clay every year to construct full-size vehicle models. None of this material would be reused in the past, but during the last five years the company has used a proprietary machine to recycle more than 9,000 kilograms
of clay and keep it out of landfills – that’s the equivalent of a dozen full-size clay model exteriors.
Once gathered, these clay chips are placed in the recycling machine – designed to process only Ford’s unique clay material and nothing else. The machine compresses and churns the clay with multiple blades, sucking all the air out of the material. The clay is then passed through a nozzle that’s heated just enough to churn it out with the proper consistency so that it can be reused.
Although the design process has been greatly improved by digital software and new scanning technology, clay is still the best medium for tackling changes in car design. When a small or digital model is scaled, there are some aspects that may not come out right, and full-size models built from
clay help identify issues that wouldn’t have been apparent otherwise – such as depth issues on belt line edges or a car hood’s power dome.
Ultimately, clay is used to complement the design process. Ford constantly creates models on a computer, milling that surface design onto a clay model, making changes by hand before scanning them back into a computer.
“Computers tend to have a more single user work flow, where clay models tend to be much more collaborative,” said VandenBrink. “A group conversation is a great tool for collaboration and consensus, and clay models do that same thing with design. Everybody can see and explore
possibilities together with a better chance of developing a great-looking model.”
– During the past five years, Ford has recycled enough clay to fill more than 26,000 330ml cans of soda. The amount recycled equates roughly to the weight of three Asian elephants.
– Sulphur used to be a prominent ingredient in clay, but the element would escape once clay was heated and eventually force electronics to malfunction. It was phased out in the 2000s as a result.
– The clay that Ford uses in its modelling does not really contain clay at all. It’s primarily a combination of waxes and oil with filler, and does not contain water like traditional ceramic clay does.
– Clay used to feature whale blubber until the hunting of whales was banned.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 203,000 employees and 67 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks and SUVs, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. To expand its business model, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities with investments in electrification, autonomy and mobility. Ford provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products and services, please visit www.corporate.ford.com < https://protect-za.mimecast.com/s/NlYKB5hg1D9HA > or www.quickpic.co.za
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