Ford introduced a new feature on their upcoming 2022 Maverick truck that could be of significant interest to 3D printer operators.
As you can see below in the Maverick’s flyer, mixed in with a copious list of features are these words:
“FITS (Fort Integrated Tether System) behind the console and in the under-seat storage bin allow owners to add accessories like a cupholder, double hooks or cord organizer.”
What is it? Well, it’s basically a T-slot that’s located in several places within the vehicle. The trick is that it is a standard size, thus a number of accessories will be produced to fit. These accessories would be manufactured by Ford and selectable by truck owners to customize their vehicle experience.
In other words, they’ve solved the eternal “why doesn’t the cupholder fit my drink?” problem.
But there’s something more here.
They are open sourcing the FITS specifications, and that will permit — and Ford apparently is encouraging — 3D printer operators to design and produce their own accessories to fit within FITS.
Need a double-cup holder with one side for your Red Bull and the other for your breakfast orange juice? No problem! Just design two appropriately-sized cylindrical holders and paste on the FITS adapter. Done!
Ford will be selling plenty of these inexpensive trucks, so there could be considerable demand for unusual FITS accessories. It’s likely there could be a cottage industry pop up to service these needs, and that could drive 3D printer use higher. There may even be entrepreneurs who enter the 3D printing industry specifically because of this opportunity.
It’s also possible that if successful on the Maverick, Ford may extend the FITS concept to other vehicles, making the market much larger.
A further development could go much deeper into the industry. If Ford is indeed open sourcing the FITS specifications, then ANY car maker could potentially make use of it in their vehicles. With this one step, Ford may have established a de facto standard for 3D printable vehicle accessories.
And if there is a huge market for FITS-capable items, then we might even see use of FITS in other areas, like boats, aircraft or even airliners: bring your own accessory on board!
It’s even possible this standard could lead to the home, where FITS-capable mounts could be made for all kinds of purposes. Imagine a clothes closet with specialized hangers for different items, like shoes, ties, etc. The home organizer business could be revolutionized.
But maybe I’m just thinking too hard here. For now, we have a truck with a slot. Make of it what you will.