Ford has patented a unique 3D-printed locking wheel nut designed to thwart alloy wheel thieves. So, could the days of finding your pride and joy up on bricks be coming to an end?
The 3D printing itself is clever, but even smarter is what it enables. By using the technique, you can create whatever pattern you want for the nuts, and for their key.
As an example, Ford developed a way to record your voice, then convert the sound waves into the locking nut’s indentation. It’s unique, like a fingerprint for your car.
Using wax to clone the pattern is virtually impossible, too. Ford calls it a second-level security feature, using unevenly-spaced ribs inside the nut, plus indentations that widen the deeper they go.
It’s not only soundwaves that could be used to make the lock and key either. Any shape you like, from the Mustang logo to your favourite racetrack, can be adapted.
“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, a research engineer at Ford.
“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.”
If you’ve got carbon fibre wheels on your Mustang GT350R or Ford GT, these unique items could be a worthwhile investment…