I’m sure some of you out there have experienced this: missing wheels, tyres, wheel nuts and accessories from your cars sometime in your life. It’s annoying, it’s inconvenient, and can be costly. Ford though, is making use of trick technology to solve this problem—by developing a 3D-printed wheel nut that’s made using a unique biometric signature based on your voice.
Autoblog reports that Ford has worked with 3D printing supplier EOS to create the locking wheel nuts, which feature unique contours and patterns based on the driver’s voice. I’m sure you’re familiar with iris, face or fingerprint authentication; this works in a similar way.
Ford engineers first record the driver’s voice for at least a second, then use software to convert the soundwave into a physical pattern. The pattern is subsequently converted into a circle and the design is used for the indentation and key on the locking nut. The nut and key are a single piece; then 3D printed using acid and corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
Can the pattern be copied? You can’t stop a determined thief can you? But wait, as additional level of security, inside of the nut are unevenly spaced ribs and indentations to prevent thieves from making a wax imprint of the pattern. The wax breaks when pulled from the nut.
Ford added that instead of recording their voice, vehicle owners can also use other elements to create a unique pattern—perhaps a car logo or a person’s initials.
As handy as the 3D-printed locking wheel nuts are, they’re only a concept for now.
The automaker said 3D printing holds enormous promise for automakers; it has used 3D printing for more than 30 years for prototyping and to shorten development times for new vehicles.
Header image: Stang TV