When it comes to stealing car parts, the wheels are probably one of the easier and more accessible parts that can be stolen, especially the rims which can either be resold or smelted down to be used for something else. However, it seems that Ford might be working on a way to try and prevent that from happening by using 3D printing.
How does this work? While locking nuts for your wheels aren’t exactly new, it isn’t exactly a 100% foolproof solution. How Ford plans to get around this problem is by creating custom locking nuts that are 3D printed that are based on the driver’s voice. By taking a recording of the driver’s voice, Ford can then 3D print a custom locking nut that is completely unique to the driver.
This in turn creates a design and a key that in theory, only the driver will possess, meaning that thieves will have even greater difficulty trying to steal your wheels. The nuts and key will be 3D printed using acid and corrosion resistant stainless steel, and to prevent thieves from making an imprint, each nut will also contain unevenly-spaced and widening ribs and indentations, which will break any wax that is applied to it.
According to Ford researcher engineer Raphael Koch, “It’s one of the worst experiences for a driver, to find their car up on blocks with all four wheels gone. Some alloy wheels can cost thousands to replace, but these unique rim nuts will stop thieves in their tracks. Making wheels more secure and offering more product personalisation are further proof that 3D printing is a game-changer for car production.”