Set to be unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the latest Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang will be a throwback. It won’t have a fancy hybrid system or even one of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engines — just good old fashioned V8 muscle. But the GT500 will boast some modern touches, in the form of 3D-printed parts.
Ford’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan, will 3D print brake parts for the GT500, according to a press release from the automaker. The facility will also 3D print an interior part for Chinese-market versions of the Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck.
This isn’t the first time Ford has employed 3D printing. The automaker claims to have purchased the third 3D printer ever made in 1988, and previously experimented with small batches of 3D-printed parts. Workers building the 2019 Ranger pickup truck use some 3D-printed tools, according to Ford. But 3D printing hasn’t been used to make parts for volume production models before.
Ford claims to have 23 3D printing machines at its Advanced Manufacturing Center. It spent $45 million on the facility, which currently employs about 100 people. In addition to 3D printing, those employees work with other emerging technologies, including augmented and virtual reality, robotics, and digital manufacturing, according to Ford.
Virtual reality is used to help design assembly lines. People don VR headsets and go through the process of putting cars together, checking to see if any maneuvers are likely to cause injuries to real-life assembly line workers. The Advanced Manufacturing Center also deals with so-called collaborative robots or “cobots.” These are smaller assembly line robots that can work alongside humans. Other types of robots have to be physically separated from humans by safety cages, as they lack awareness of their surroundings.
Regardless of what technology is used to built it, the Ford Shelby GT500 should be something special. Inspired by one of the greatest original muscle cars, the GT500 will pack over 700 horsepower, according to Ford. The automaker is keeping other details under wraps until the car’s January 14, 2019 unveiling at the Detroit Auto Show. Toyota will unveil its long-awaited Supra sports car the same day, so car enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to.