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Ford launches online portal for 3D printing

The Ford 3D Store sells printable files for the F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST.

Ford has launched an online portal geared for 3D-printing hobbyists.

As the name implies, the Ford 3D Store offers a range of files that can be downloaded and used to print scale models on desktop 3D printers or larger additive-manufacturing machines.

The site currently lists the F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST, Focus RS and Fiesta ST among the available nameplates, but Ford promises to add more models down the road.

Buyers can either download the .STL files for $4.99 each, or order a 1/32-scale pre-printed model for $39. A Ford GT is scheduled to be available later this week, already painted unlike the other models.

Rather than taking a block of plastic and cutting material away or molding it to form a shape, most desktop 3D printers extrude ABS or PLA plastic onto successive layers that eventually form a three-dimensional model.

"3D printing at home is a growing trend, and it makes sense for us to offer our customers a chance to make their own 3D Ford models," said Ford licensing manager Mark Bentley. "At Ford, we're using 3D printing every day to rapidly prototype parts, and now we want to share that fun with our fans."

The company suggests sales of 3D desktop printers are on track to exceed one million units by 2018. Most printers currently range from $500 to $1000 or higher, however prices are expected to keep falling as the technology gains wider adoption.

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