My NAIAS Experience: Day 3 – Ford Dearborn Development Center #FordNAIAS
16 Jan 2012
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January 10th was the final day of our #FordNAIAS experience. After checking out of our rooms, we all enjoyed breakfast at the Henry Hotel.
After breakfast, we boarded a shuttle bus for Ford Dearborn Development Center.
Once there, we assembled in this huge room, with a high domed ceiling, and the same type of spinning vehicle pads that were at Cobo Hall. Scott Monty had mentioned to us this room was used to debut new vehicles. Years ago, this even included airplane (which is why the room was so huge).
We then split off into groups to take our tour. My group’s first stop was the clay modelling room. This was one of the areas of the tour we were not allowed to use our cameras.
Oh… and for the record, I wasn’t the only one that took a picture of this sign. However I did respect Ford’s wishes, and the camera was put away for the duration of this part of the tour. This was a good thing, because after an explanation of how the clay modelling area contributes to the design of new vehicles, we got to use several of the carving tools, and even add more clay to an existing model. Clay and foam were used to sculpt interior and exterior designs, as well as wood, plastic and metal; a five-axis mill was for fine finishing of the clay; and a silver lay on material was used to add the final “painted look” finish. In some cases, these models were sent on to the paint shop for a fresh coat of paint. All of these models are created from blueprints, and digital design files are sent back and forth from modelling to the digital design department. I could have stayed in this room all day. There is nothing like creating something with your hands.
We also got to talk to some of the modellers, who explained their backgrounds and how they got into their field. One sculptor told me he was like all of us… he liked to play in the sand, play with lego and later Meccano, and then eventually got into clay modelling as a kid. It was amazing to see how old school techniques are incorporated into current and concept designs.
Our next stop was the digital design room, where there were 3 huge screens:
Here we were shown how the vehicles were digitally drawn:
The next design team member showed us everything from the exterior of the vehicle to the intricate details of the interior being sketched out, to how he would incorporate different finishes, features, options, etc:
The interior was sent on to another designer, who would refine the inside with texture and colour:
Another designer would render files digitally and work closely with the clay sculptors:
Then we moved on to the simulation room, where technicians could refine and improve on the new My Ford Touch and and Sync systems:
Before leaving, we learned how Ford was using a lot of sustainable and eco-friendly materials in their vehicles:
These “Green Innovations” included everything from the bio-door, to recycled door panels, to the bio-seat made of soy foam and corn based fabric:
As someone that currently drives a very large SUV, I am aware it is not the most economical or environmentally friendly vehicle. However, if there are ways I can reduce my carbon footprint, I will. We are a camping family, and tow a large camper trailer that cannot be towed by smaller vehicles. When purchasing our next vehicle, we will definitely be looking at greener and more fuel efficient options.
I learned a lot from this invaluable experience, of how Ford is improving not only their vehicles and sales, but their carbon footprint on our planet. There is a lot going on at Ford, and I am sure what we saw was only a small taste of it.
For more information on Ford’s green initiatives and technology, check out Ford
Disclosure: Ford Motor Company paid for my transportation, accommodations and food. I was not compensated for my time. I was not asked to write blog posts or promote the show or the experience on social media. I did this on my own. The opinions are that of Big Daddy.
Here are a few more of the pictures I took:
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