New 3-D Technology Helps Ford Improve F-Series Gear Mesh

Ford Mesh 2 II

Want a simple way to improve your pickup truck's overall performance? Would you like to do whatever you can to improve the tolerances of each of the places where metal meets metal, like inside the engine, driveline or axles? If you're Ford Motor Co. and you want to find better ways to make pickups, a similar strategy can be used as well. That's why Ford is doing everything it can to make sure the power from an engine is transferred as easily and efficiently as possible through the rear axles, and it's investing in some sophisticated technology to make it all happen.

In fact, the same technology that Google uses to provide 3-D images for navigation screens is now being employed by Ford in order to ensure ring and pinion gears mesh perfectly together to provide the best and most efficient transfer of power from the pinion to the ring gear. These gears are typically set up with micrometers and skilled eyeballs in the factory but are now scanned by a high-speed computer from multiples angles to provide a more exact coupling.

In the real world, that means a better, smoother power transfer out of your pickup under the harshest working conditions, exactly the setting you'd find when hauling or towing near maximum payload or the gross combined weight rating.

The system uses separate, curved arcs where two cameras take up to 9,000 digital images while gears rotate. A powerful computer stitches the images into a single 3-D image, comparing it to a set of data points for the ideal gear mesh. Any gears that don't fit within the proper specifications are booted out of the line, modified and then the process starts again.

Ford believes this photogrammetric pattern reader will provide stronger and longer-lasting ring and pinion gears to further improve the F-Series' overall durability.

To read more about the process, click here.

Ford Mesh II



Great technology, I hope to see it on Ford's upcomming 10 speed.

This is a first for the automotive industry and shows why Ford is the truck leader. Customers are going to get a better axle and a quieter vehicle.

Jay Leno uses a 3D copy machine to make copies of parts that he needs to have made on some of his rarest cars in his collection. The 3D technology is just amazing.

Why V8 trucks will always be better than gas engines with turbos...

Great job Ford!

This is one place Ford has been lacking easily seen in the Duramax vs Powerstroke wars. The less HP and Tq Duramax could out run the Powerstroke.

I dunno, gear marking compound is pretty fool proof and not all that difficult to read. Sounds more like Ford doesn't trust the non-robots on their assembly line...

I don't see how you could make much improvement here. Anybody who's set up gears in a differential before knows that there are already very tight tolerances. Any flaw at all will show itself quickly. The gears either mesh properly or they don't. I think this is more of an advertising campaign than anything else.

@WXman, I agree with ya. Add to it, Ford sources their axle assemblies from an outside vendor just like everyone else does. Nothing to see here. Why shine a light on what was never broke to begin with? I've never had a rear end in any truck I've owned go bad in 40 years. When I hear of any sort of axle or differential issue on a truck, I go straight to the source. Dana, American Axle etc. Not Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge.

If it ain't broke don't fix it.

@ johnny doe A stock LML Duramax will walk all over a stock 6.7 Powerstroke, and a stock LML Duramax will keep up with a mildly tuned 6.7 Powerstroke. It’s sad really. But last time I checked I couldn’t make a 6.7 Powerstroke with 3.73 on the Ford website, while the Duramax only comes with 3.73 on 3/4 trucks in my region.

But I still believe if you are going to build a fast diesel truck and have the money to spare, the Cummins is the best platform. You just basically replace all the parts that Dodge (Ram) put around the Cummins, starting with the transmission first.

Actually, Ford has their own axle plant, Ford Sterling. The first use of the PPR system is at Ford's Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, with additional implementations planned for Ford's other plants around the globe.

There's lots of Chevy Silverado and other makers rear end axle problems if you google it. Mostly earlier 2000 models. This is in what respect Ford is talking about durability, how long it lasts.

This just shows the sad state of this website.

1. We readers were promised better management and monitoring of comments, but the useless fan-boy posts persist.

2. The continued "parrot journalism" is getting embarrassing. I already subscribe to Automotive News; I don't need to read the same story 2-3 days later here because no one at PUTC bothered to actually get a story, so they just provide a link (to avoid a plagiarism suit) and add a couple of comments. Why do any actual reporting when you can "parrot" a story from another site and use their legwork instead?

3. The oversupport of Ford and the F-series was so prevalent, Ford hired Mike Levine outright for their media department, and it continues to show today.

4. Despite the fact that NHTSA announced on SUNDAY they were investigating the 3.5L EcoBoost issue of no throttle response that has generated one lawsuit already, several TSBs from Ford, *95* complaints at the NHTSA website, and covers some 400,000 F-150s from 2011, 2012, and 2013... it's now Wednesday and PUTC *still* hasn't bothered to report the story. The Detroit News, Yahoo News, and yes, Automotive News all had the story on their websites Sunday afternoon - on a holiday weekend.

Get your act together, Mark.

Ford should start working on their suspension on their Super Duty trucks. I stopped at a rv dealership in New England that sells a large number of truck campers. They told me that they have to beef up all the Super Duty truck suspensions in the back for the large truck campers. But they have to do nothing in the GM or Ram trucks. They showed me a one ton single wheel GMC with a large camper on the back. They said that they sold the same camper for a one ton Ford and it needed air bags to keep it from squatting. This dealership was not biased no means, they had a one ton Ford of their own and said that they were loyal Ford truck owners but Ford suspensions were getting weaker on their new trucks.

This isn't an Auto News exclusive - I can't find where they even covered it. If they did, good for them. It was first from Ford. If another site has a neg Ford story, you beg for the site to pick it up. If you only want negative Ford blogs, too bad. That's not how it works. The site is unbiased content. ML or anyone else here past or present being pro Ford is a joke. That's why they gave the Rumble in the Rockies to GM and nearly every HD shootout to GM (gas went to Ford). That's why ML said at the time he would buy a Silverado HD. That's why Ram won the last shootout even though the Ford should have won based on performance. PUTC is as close to unbiased content and information as you can get. If Ford gets any favorable coverage it is because they deserve it. MW and ML are the the country's foremost experts on pickup trucks. ML is gone but MW is just as good or better.

@Greg - Weaker or changed spring rates? There is a difference -
-Spring pack size both in number and width?
- Frame/spring mount changes in dimensions, metal thickness.
- Frame design changes - crossmember placement, qty, attachment scheme(i.e. welded, rivited)
- Frame alloy
- etc, etc, etc
There is a tremedous amount of deisgn/engineering in the frame. A "squatting truck" does not necessarliy mean weakness - more than likely a differnence in spring rate. Especially, if all the RV installer did was bag it, with no further frame mods.

I'll also add if GM was smart they would have hired ML first. GM obviously liked ML's work as GM requested him on that one comparison test. Ford got a great person to work for them. GM lost. Get over it. The site is unbiased content.

Today is also a day for me to reflect about the great country we live in. I didn’t know a soul in the auto industry when PUTC went live in 1995. Hard work, persistence and merit led to this moment. Along the way, I made lifelong friends and met amazing people I wouldn't have otherwise. I think that’s a terrific message to share with others, especially in today’s tough economy.
Goodbye PUTC. It's Time to Take a New Road

I think it is 30% or40% power lost as it travels from engine to tranny/transfer case to differential. so any area that they can get the most out of is always a good news. specially if it will mean a slightly increased MPG.

"I already subscribe to Automotive News; I don't need to read the same story 2-3 days later here.......Detroit News, Yahoo News, and yes, Automotive News all had the story on their websites"

Do you want the same stories or not? Which is it? If you don't need the same story from other sites, why do you only want the negative ones from others? Your bias is showing if you just want the negatives repeated.

Automotive News has STILL not posted on the improved Ford gears. PUTC had it up this morning. Good job PUTC.

Auto News, get your act together! ;)

Mike Levine‏ @mrlevine 3h
@Ford F-Series is rated top American-made pickup --13 most truly made-in-America cars - via @YahooAutos and WSJ

Ford = Most American pickup.

Jason you are correct, the F-150 is the most American pickup follow by the Tundra being the second most American, then Chevy, then Ram


Just because Ford "sells" the most trucks DOESN'T MAKE THEM THE BEST ON THE MARKET!! McDonalds supposedly sells the most hamburgers does NOT MAKE THEM THE BEST FAST FOOD CHAIN IN THE BUSINESS. Their food gives me gas. LET IT BE WRITTEN LET IT BE DONE!!

Tundra has more parts content that is NOT FROM NORTH AMERICA.

Get it right!

Michigan Bob, We all know you're an Arby's man...

"Do you want the same stories or not? Which is it? If you don't need the same story from other sites, why do you only want the negative ones from others? Your bias is showing if you just want the negatives repeated."

Jason, what I expect is news, positive or negative, in a timely fashion. As a pickup-centric site, they should have had the NHTSA EcoBoost story AT THE SAME TIME as everyone else, meaning Sunday afternoon. PUTC has completely dismissed the story to this point. Instead, we're given old truck resale value and 3D animation (that is even tagged as "Offbeat") listed as "news."

I usually get gas after reading Michigan Bob, too.

I am glad to see Ford using more tech to improve the quality of components. This likely won't make any real power differences but likely will improve wear and tear resistance and make the trucks more reliable, especially those that are used hard each day.

I suspect if other automakers aren't already doing something similar they quickly will be. I can see this tech being used in the engine as well so they can ensure a better seal between pistons and the walls.

PUTC didn't completely dismiss it. I think they feel that the issue was already covered with the EcoBoost Lawsuit post. The NHTSA is just doing a preliminary evaluation which is only in its earliest stage and is not F-150 specific. PUTC can add to the original story if more develops. There were only 95 complaints. There were 20,000+ complaints before anyone covered the Toyota acceleration issue.




2013 RAM!

The reason the Duramax out runs the Powerstroke is because of Fords traction control. The Ford has so much power it wants to spin the tires. Traction control takes care of that. It's right here on PUTC. Go back and read the shootout. That's before Ford boosted the power when the Duramax was more powerful. Mike Levine ran the trucks in 4 wheel drive and Ford won, with less power! He posted that in the comments section.

First off, this is NOT an article about engines, springs, frames, suspensions, bodies or other brands; this is specifically an article about Ford's use of 3D technology to ensure better parts. Any other subject matter is OFF TOPIC.

Secondly, as someone already said, Ford outsources these specific parts (and others) and as such cannot know with any certainty that any of these parts fall within their specifications. Hey, as good as the human eyeball is, it can still miss mistakes. Computer imaging has become a standard--has been a standard--for ensuring specification compliance for over a decade. However, imaging technologies HAVE improved and this technology is better than any previous one for ensuring all aspects of the part are within spec within the shortest possible time. Rather than a dozen sets of eyeballs trying to verify tens of these parts in the course of an hour, computer imagery can verify thousands in minutes. More accurate tolerances to specification makes more reliable components in the long run. Ford still does not have the best reputation for reliability, though its trucks do rate better than its cars.


Let's just be honest the alleged problems with the 3.5L ecoboost right now are being blown out of proportion but when you do ads like this, say "Built Ford Tough" and you give the competition (GM for example) grief for not doing a twin turbo V6 don't be surprised when your competition takes delight and gives you grief at the slightest appearance of a crack in your armor.

Finally, a practical application for 3D Technology! LOL

This is cool, but I wonder who does this on the replacement gear sounds like something Ford is only doing on new trucks. If a guy has an older truck that needs a new rear-end, can he expect lesser performance?

I've got an idea: Ford should figure out how to build the gear sets perfectly every time. Then instead of using a 3D modeling machine to find imperfections, they could just not do that.


"Ford outsources these specific parts...."

I agree with you that we should try not to post on off-topic topics in the blog posts. On the axle topic, have you heard of Ford's Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan? Or Ford's other plants around the world?

H/T: Ford

“This technology is part of a trend where companies like Ford are using advanced automation to increase accuracy and consistency in production,” said Nan Zhang, a scientist at Automated Vision. “Computer vision is booming and is a very important topic for the next decade.”

Now in use at Ford’s Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., PPR stations are being rolled out in Ford plants worldwide.

Did somebody say GMs always had reliable drivetrains?

That person must not have neede valve bodies changes, or injectors canged, or the ignition lock cylinder replaced, yada yada yada.

Just keep trying to make yourselfthink they were reliable!

Posted by: TRX-4 Tom | May 28, 2013 8:02:17 AM

Here you go, Papa Jim: More good ol reliable Chivys.

Posted by: TRX-4 Tom | May 28, 2013 8:06:16 AM

the whole thing that started it, on this post was Papa Jim and his opinion, which is just that. Then when somebody replies to it, the Chevy camp is all over it. Lou, you said it yourself, you like to provide links, so I provided some, and look, the GM drivelines are not the great thing Papa Jim and you seem to think. Maybe you both have lost some memory?

But keep thinking GMs don't have issues with valve bodies, injectors, fuel pumps, ignition lock cylinders, they will nickel and dime you.

Speaking of the GM driveline, my 2006 4 speed made a clunk going into to second gear, light pedal pressure, no load. I guess the GM crowd just learns to accept it, just like the people that drive the 6 speeds and they slam into 1st gear.

I need one of those shirts that says "GM quality control" And the GM is sideways, not square, dicolored. It would represent my 2006 Chevy well.

As far as the shootout comming up, I think alot of people will learn that this stupid one up-manship between GM and Ford is dumb, and whoever thinks a GM 5.3 is a better pulling truck then a Hemi 8 speed, a Tundra 5.7, or an Ecoboost, based solely on inflated tow ratings, deserves whatever their 5.3 turns into after miles of that kind of use.

It won't be my problem.

Posted by: TRX-4 Tom | May 29, 2013 11:25:06 AM

"And at about 7 p.m. last Wednesday, it all disappeared in a thick column of acrid brown smoke on the side of the Dallas North Tollway — $54,335 worth of truck gone in about three minutes.
I was the old hillbilly-looking guy who hopped out of the Ram just south of the Trinity Mills exit and limped away from the truck.
If you were one of the two or three motorists who honked at me, offering what looked to be obscene gestures, I will try next time to stage my vehicle fires in a more convenient location."

@Ram HQ. Some people think that I'm hard on them, but I'm really just telling the truth and they think it's hard.

My experience with Chevy trucks has been really excellent. My 88 S10 which I bought new had a 4sp Auto and 4.3 six cylinder. In 1999 I was in a bad wreck that about destroyed the truck. Had almost 200k hard miles on it. During the life of the truck I only did two things above and beyond the call of duty.

I used Mobil One oil and I had the trans serviced every two or three years with new fluid. It never leaked or smoked ran strong. When it had about 160k on it I replaced the water pump. Around that time my buddy who worked at a chevy dealer did a fuel injection service on it. Apart from that it was just gas tires and brake pads.

Some of the plastic trim bits on the interior were mickey mouse, but the paint held up, the truck used to beat Mustang GTs (not the five speeds but the V8 autos). The 4sp auto was bullet proof.

Your mileage may vary.

Michigan Bob, We all know you're an Arby's man...

Posted by: Dave | May 29, 2013 10:56:16 AM

For your information I prefer Wendy's.

My dad used to take me to Wendys when I was little and if its good enough for him its good enough for me.

Bob, I have always thought Wendy's are pretty decent.

I don't know where many of you burger snobs here are getting your burger or what you expect from them. But of the big 3 burger joints, Bob is 100% correct, Wendys is the best.

Now onto fries. I've always enjoyed Wendy's fries. They've kept me company on more road trips than I can count. Everyone knows that McDonald's fries are the king of fast food potatoes, so there's no use in comparing, but Wendy's fries were always tasty enough to hold their own.

Burger King fries, on the other hand, are almost inedible; they have this strange coating that makes them all texture and no taste. Just overall unpleasant if you ask me. Of course I'll eat them,but I always find myself hungry for a superior fry from one of their competitors.

That said, I am looking forward to going to Wendys again.

McDonald's pushing burgers as salads fail to lure enough diners

McDonald’s Corp., struggling to project a healthier image amid complaints about its high-calorie food, is having a hard time persuading customers to buy salads.

Even with such names as Bacon Ranch and Southwest with Crispy Chicken, salads make up 2 percent to 3 percent of U.S. restaurant sales, Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson said at an investor conference. By contrast, the Dollar Menu generates 13 percent to 14 percent of sales, he said.

GM sells more trucks than Ram!
Wendys better than McDonalds!
McDonalds salads failing!
Ford fans can't handle the truth!


Mass produced items have flaws, how can any company make a perfect product? If we went for 100% quality, that 35K pickup that we complain about being overpriced will cost 350K.
The system is catching "two to five parts per every 1,000 parts fall outside the tight tolerance range for acceptability."

Guys bitch about Ford's problems with the Ecoboost, and now they bitch and complain about attempts to improve Q/C...........

and somehow that turns into questioning this sites objectivity.

My only complaint in regard to these blogs is that they need more intense moderation.

All that technology ford has,but they can't figure out how to fix 400,000 EGOboost engines.
FORD is going to get exposed for the fakes they are.

PUTC is busy. They are busy working on the half-ton shootout. This is the one where the 2013 EcoBoost destroys the competition's V8s.

Someone needs to point out to Bob that there is a huge difference between a burger and a truck.

Just because his truck is greasy, oily, leaks goo all over the place and is a health hazzard in large doses......................

Okay, now I see why he uses the burger analogy.

Someone needs to point out to Bob that GMC is global #1 in sales but generates negligible profits when compared to VW, Toyota, and Ford.

We all know Bob is an idiot, why bother.

Michigan Bob is a living legend and is right 99.99% of the time and was right about Egooboost.

@ Dave It better be a tuned ecoboost, I doubt the ecoboost will out pull the 7 year old 5.7 Tundra. Let alone of the 6.2 GM just released today, 420 hp/ 450 TQ.

The 5.7 did nearly identical to the 6.2 GM twins in the last shootout, and the 6.2 wipes the floor with the ecoboost.


the 13 ecoboost will get DESTROYED by the 5.7 Tundra and 6.2 GM in a towing bout. there is no comparison. it beats the 5.3 chev (which never bragged to be the best at towing) and the Hemi with the 5/6 speed trans. I doubt PUTC will do a shootout with the ecoboost until they figure out how to make the ecoboost actually beat the 2007 model 5.7 tundra. OH and dont bring the dog 6.2 ford motor into it as it will lose to the same two aformentioned trucks as well in towing. these are the harsh facts my friend the ecoboost is a bad idea and i have maintained that though since day one. Sadly a bunch of people have been caught by the hype.

wheres the news release on the 6.2 chev for the 14 model? Automotive news has this on BEFORE PUTC REALLY?

The comments to this entry are closed.