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Ford Motor Co. (F - Analyst Report) is busy developing an advanced patented technology, which it claims will revolutionize prototyping and low-volume production. Based on Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology (F3T), which was developed at the Ford Research and Innovation Center, a piece of sheet metal is transformed into a 3D shape by two stylus-type tools.

This new technology reduces cost and delivery time. Sheet metal parts can be delivered in three business days from the time the CAD model of the part is received. On the other hand, the traditional stamping processes are energy-intensive and require longer time for the production process to be completed.

Ford expects the vehicle research and development process to improve once the F3T process is fully developed. It will provide more flexibility in creating parts for prototypes and concept cars. F3T can also be used in industries such as aerospace, defense, transportation and appliance industries.

This project is a part of $7.04 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to bolster next-generation and energy-efficient manufacturing processes. Northwestern University, The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report), Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn State Erie are the other collaborators for this project.

Mich.-based Ford is a prominent player in the automobile industry along with General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report) and Toyota Motor Corp. (TM - Analyst Report). Ford carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Ford posted a 4.1% year over year increase in profit to $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2013. Earnings per share rose 5.1% to 41 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents.

Revenues improved 10.5% to $35.8 billion, exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $32.8 billion. The improvements in revenues and earnings were mainly attributable to Ford’s strong performance in North America and Asia Pacific Africa, partially offset by unfavorable exchange rate in South America and uncertainties in Europe.
 

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