Ford using 3D printing on Navigator, Expedition SUVs to meet increased demand

Employees at Ford’s Kentucky truck plant in Louisville

Employees at Ford’s Kentucky truck plant in Louisville

The faster assembly lines will be better able to keep up with demand for the Navigator and Expedition SUVs.

To address that situation, Ford announced Monday that it will add another $25 million to its investment in its Kentucky Truck Plant, where the Navigator is built alongside the Expedition SUV.

"The response from customers regarding our new full-size SUVs has been exceptional", Joe Hinrichs, president, Global Operations said in a statement. "Using a combination of Ford's advanced manufacturing and American hard work and ingenuity, we'll deliver more high-quality Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions to customers than originally planned".

The all-new Lincoln Navigator is essentially flying off dealer lots, since the 2018 Navigators only spends an average of seven days at the dealership before they are sold.

Customers are trading in Land Rover and Mercedes vehicles in exchange for a Navigator, and almost 85 percent of all Navigator buyers are choosing high-end Black Label and Reserve models. The average transaction price for the Lincoln Navigator jumped by $21,000 in January, while the average price for a new Ford Expedition was up $7,800, according to the automaker. To meet that demand, $25 million has been pumped into the automotive company's Kentucky Truck Plant, taking the total investment in that facility to $925 million. An enormous spare parts "vending machine" allows workers to more quickly locate a necessary part while automatically keeping inventory at optimal levels. Manufacturing a prototype part using traditional methods can take eight to 16 weeks at a cost of more than $250,000 in tooling alone.

The Kentucky Truck Plant employs more than 8,400 people.