Ford develops unique 3D printed wheel nuts using a driver’s voice

It is no secret that to avoid theft of expensive alloy wheels, along with expensive tires, drivers use special nuts to remove which special adapters are needed. However, in practice, this measure is generally not very effective, as it is not difficult for attackers to choose the necessary adapter. For this reason, Ford has proposed a very unusual technology to protect car wheels against theft, which is based on biometric principles and 3D printing.

Developed in collaboration with EOS, a leading supplier for high-end solutions in additive manufacturing, this solution represents a prototype, and, for the moment, it is not known whether and when it will find the application on the blue oval series models.

Unique wheel nuts designed using a driver's voice.
Unique wheel nuts designed using a driver’s voice.

The concept behind this project is to create customized and, therefore, anti-theft bolts and a wrench that are unique and different for each car. The bolts that can only be removed by the owner will have a unique key.

Expert engineers record the driver’s voice for a minimum of one second. After that, the software converts sound waves into a design to print. Subsequently, it becomes a circular pattern and adapts to constitute the notches of the nut and its corresponding safety key.

Once the shapes match, the nut and the wrench are designed in one piece and then printed in 3D by a process in which it uses acid and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. In the end, the nut and the wrench separate and after a few adjustments are ready for use.

And that’s not all. Designers have devised a second level of security that avoids making copies of the nut. The notches, irregularly distributed and widened as they become deeper, prevent the thief from making a wax copy since it would break when unmolding.

In the case of not using the voice as a mold, the contours of the nuts could be designed for each car, such as a specific one for the Mustang logo, or the driver’s initials could even be adapted. The design could also be inspired by the interests of the driver, for example, by using the outline of a famous racetrack.

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