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Product development – how man and machine work together to develop the car of the future

The technology and design of vehicles have evolved fundamentally throughout the history of the automotive industry. The development process as such has also undergone a comprehensive change – digital solutions, industrial robots and smart software technologies are shaping the image of today’s automotive production.

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From the first sketches to milling – how design studies are carried out in the automotive industry today.

The many steps in the development of motor vehicles begin with design studies for automotive trade shows. These studies serve to present a novel automotive concept, also known as a show model or show car, to the trade show audience and to determine from the reactions which aspects can possibly be adopted in series production. Technical and functional parameters do not necessarily have to be given yet – it is only the outer character of the body to be put on display.

Combining technology and manual work

Nevertheless, such a show model is very time-consuming. Thanks to automation, workloads can be reduced even in the early design phase – with individual solutions, a large number of manual operations at the push of a button are kept to a minimum. Despite the computer age, manual work on clay models made of industrial plasticine (clay) is indispensable. It applies, combining the interplay of technology and precise craftsmanship. In coordination-intensive design studies, these synergies are already being successfully exploited to save both time and money.

For those in a hurry – the image gallery provides a quick overview of the individual development steps in vehicle development:

The development of motor vehicles usually begins with design studies for automotive trade shows. These studies are used to present a novel automotive concept and to find out which aspects can be transferred to series production

Even today, developers make use of the classic sketch design: A previously developed concept describes the character of the body to be developed

Quick sketches follow - retouched in color and the size of an A4 sheet. Since the mid-nineties of the last century, these have increasingly been created using software

Based on the drawings, a favored design is then determined, which is worked up to a scale model. The selected body is converted into perspective, three-dimensional sketches to give an initial impression of the overall geometries

Concepts and drawings – the starting point

In addition to individual needs and requirements, the first impression is a decisive factor in the sales success of a vehicle. In order to visualize the initial objectives when coming up with ideas for a new car, the specialist departments still make use of the classic sketch design. A previously elaborated concept describes the character of the body to be developed. The concepts defined in these sketches must be taken into account in the line management of simple, two-dimensional sketches, so-called thumbnail sketches, and implemented in the best possible way. From the design collection, those drawings are selected and worked out in quick sketches that meet the requirements and constraints of the designers.

The execution of these quick sketches – retouched in color and in the size of a DIN A4 sheet – has increasingly been carried out since the middle of the nineties of the last century through the use of software. Digital processing facilitates and emphasizes the design process sketch-based design of natural phenomena in the desired shaping, such as appearance, reflections and shadows. This gives the vehicle designs a realistic character, which is used to double-check that the defined concept is being met.

The ideal balance between robustness and weight in any chassis has been the core competence of Tekk Consulting for years. Since the company has relied on 3D scanning, designers have been able to win the race against time

From the sketch to the model

on the basis of the drawings, a favorite design is then determined, which is worked out to a scale model. The selected body will be drawn in perspective, three-dimensional sketches transferred to get a first impression of the overall geometries. For the first time, not only the pure side view is in the foreground, but above all the symbiosis of rims, front and rear area. For the details, it is important to significantly reduce the perspective representation of the previous sketches in order to gain an even surface representation.

these drawings are then rendered, for example with the adobe creative suite by means of clear, graspable lines. Important for this type of renderings is that in all representations (front, side, rear and top view) no perspective distortion arises, in order not to falsify the total impression of the outside geometries and dimensions. the rendering serves as a basis for the following plastilin model and the three-dimensional digital conversion.

On the basis of ergonomic studies to the final design

Based on this adobe representation(s), an ergonomics study or package study is carried out, which determines the space requirements of the occupants via the human body geometry. Even in the case of non-functional showcars, it must be guaranteed that the room layout and external dimensions provide a comfortable seating position, legroom and easy operation of the pedals for all genders.

In several iteration steps and under consideration of ergonomic and design features, the selection of the final styling of the car body – recorded with numerous perspective correct drawings – which will be the starting point for the plastilin model.

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