A car manufacturer is using 3D printing technology in a bid to thwart theft from vehicles.

As car security systems become increasingly more sophisticated, thieves are targeting car parts instead, including alloy wheels.

Now engineers at Ford are harnessing 3D printing technology to develop next-generation locking wheel nuts.

Together with EOS, a supplier for solutions in additive manufacturing, Ford has created locking nuts with contours based on the driver’s voice.

Like an iris scan or a fingerprint, a person’s voice can be used as a unique biometric identification. Engineers record the driver’s voice for a minimum of one second, saying something like “I drive a Ford Mustang”, and use software to convert that singular soundwave into a physical, printable pattern. This pattern is then turned into a circle and used as the design for the locking nut’s indentation and key.

“It’s one of the worst experiences for a driver, to find their car up on blocks with all four wheels gone,” said Raphael Koch, Ford Advanced Materials and Processes research engineer.

“Some alloy wheels can cost thousands to replace, but these unique rim nuts will stop thieves in their tracks. Making wheels more secure and offering more product personalisation are further proof that 3D printing is a game-changer for car production.”