Airaid's 3D Printed Prototype Showcases Technology at SEMAPosted in News on November 5, 2014 0) (
We were eyeballing Airaid's new prototype high-flow cold air intake for the not-yet-released 2015 F-150 and it got us thinking. Walking the floor at the 2014 SEMA show, we see a lot of cool new products. But having had the advantage of attending this show for the past 15 or 16 years, we've also got the benefit of perspective. A decade and a half ago you wouldn't expect to see too many aftermarket parts for a vehicle that hasn't even been released to the general public. Heck, even five years ago many companies were still using (relatively) primitive hands-on R&D techniques to create parts in a labor-intensive trial-and-error methods of design and engineering. But as much as the SEMA show is a showcase for forward-thinking and unusual parts, products, and vehicle builds, so too is it a showcase for companies that embrace the latest manufacturing techniques to speed development of its products to market.
In this case, Airaid was able to take the actual files from Ford for its OE air intake, tweak it in the computer, and feed it straight into a 3D printer. A mere 18 days later (plastic printers aren't exactly as fast as an ink jet) the printer spit out a working prototype airbox that Airaid was able to test-fit in a loaner 2015 F-150. Airaid can then make any subsequent tweaks or adjustments to the prototype easily in the same way. It's just one more example of intelligent use of the latest technology to cut the wait time for aftermarket products down to virtually nothing and ensure a much better product for the consumer.