They turn dreams into reality – from an idea to the clay model of a prototype. They facilitate perfection in form and are treasures of unimaginable worth – the golden tools of Audi Design …
Lines must flow, say the designers. In the hands of these experts in form, pens and pencils glide across the paper in sweeping, yet gentle movements. Emerging gradually from the lines is a sketch that looks more like a work of art than a draft of a future model. From pencil, through fineliner to marker – the variety of drafting instruments knows no bounds. They are the first tools for transforming the dream of a car of the future into reality.
Known as CAD (computer-aided design) to the experts, this term covers more than just number crunching. The computer uses the software to turn the data into an initial virtual 2D model on the screen. The conversion of these numbers into visible results is just the start of a process that ends in an actual three-dimensional model.
It is the extension of the computer in Audi Design – the CNC mill. Using the data from the CAD model, it shapes the modeling clay – the material of which designers’ dreams are made – into its basic form using boring and milling heads. Applied to the clay via joystick, it operates down to nanometer precision. The resulting 3D model provides the designers with the basis for further shaping by hand.
Smooth surfaces and sweeping forms call for the highest level of precision. They are among the most challenging tasks facing a model maker. And yet, the experts at Audi Design have no need for a computer or data-based tools, turning instead to traditional scrapers. These “rakes” as the modelers refer to the triangular devices, become precision instruments in the hands of craftsmen and women. Used with care and a fine touch, they bring final form to the model, just like a conductor brings timing to an orchestra.
When cool, the clay is hard. At 60 degrees, however, it is as soft as butter and alleable into any desired form. Thus, the hot air gun is a fundamental piece of equipment for the designer. The tool allows the model to be altered, new clay to be added or previously used clay to be reshaped. In no time at all, the 2,000-watt blower heats the material enough to permit work to continue uninterrupted.
The tool kit used by the model makers of Audi Design offers a veritable treasure trove of devices for perfection in form – modeling wires that fit into every corner and crevice, pointing tools for crafting the tiniest details and socalled “window mice” for magically carving right angles into modeling clay. Also part of this magical treasure chest are finishers that looks a little like tiny garden rakes, as well as slicks that shape the material into any desired form.
The acronym SLA stands for Stereo Lithography Apparatus, and its task is as complicated as its name implies. From the data provided by the CAD modeling process, the stereolithography machine calculates a build plan of individual model parts. The data forms the basis for a procedure that seems to verge on the miraculous. Slice by slice, a solid-state laser applies one layer of epoxy resin after another, until “out of nothing” a 3D model appears. This later allows the model makers to integrate individual add-on parts like side air intakes into their clay models.
They are indispensible for making contrasts, waves and arcs visible on the skin-colored clay model – design tapes. Each color serves a specific function. Black makes visible the contrasts of the subsequently painted model. Blue helps the model makers find the correct line. Brown supports form. Red and white are used to mark distinctive points. To highlight them even more, the model makers use their tools to work along these perfectly applied lines.
Light, pliable and with one toothed cutting edge – clay sculpting blades are at the heart of the model maker’s toolbox. Available in countless shapes and sizes and individually adapted, the waferthin leaves of spring steel are the perfect shaping tool. Through them, the model makers are truly able to feel the form beneath their fingers as it takes shape. Millimeter by millimeter, the model makers use the sculpting blades to remove layers of clay, providing the model with the finishing touch necessary to pass the test required to bring an Audi model to the world’s roads.