Lexus has long been known to make cars that display human craftsmanship skills. In celebration, the brand has come out with a new model: the Lexus Origami Car. An authentic replica of the IS saloon, it is a Lexus like it has never been seen before.
Instead of the usual plastic, glass, and sheet metal, the Origami Car is a life-size model that uses precision-cut cardboard as the main material. At the production line of Lexus, this skillfull group of people, also known as takumi, work to improve their dexterity skills through origami.
They learn how to fold paper and turn it an origami model cat. The catch is that they do it using their non-dominant hand. This talent is made use of in the making of the Origami Car but it has been taken to a much higher level.
At the same time, it is part of the expression of its global brand campaign called Creating Amazing. It has everything one wants in a car like a fitted interior, headlights, rolling wheels, and functioning doors. Since the electric motor has been mounted on an aluminium and steel frame, it is possible to actually drive the Origami Car.
Owing to the complexity and size of this project, this rather extraordinary undertaking was done by two UK-based companies LaserCut Works and Scales and Models. Both of these specialist companies have a wide and extensive experience when it comes to designing and creating architectural models, prototypes, and made-to-order commissions.
Ruben Marcos, founder and director of Scales and Models Company shared that the project was very demanding considering that it involved five people who undertook the digital designing, the modelling, laser cutting, and assembly. Marcos adds that they remain committed to manufacturing with the best possible quality, a trait shared with Lexus.
The whole team was in fact faced with a number of tough challenges during the creative process. Marcos shares that the wheels needed a lot of refining, and several attempts were made before the seats looked right.
However, once the team was able to see the physical pieces starting to take shape, it was easy to identify where improvements were needed, Marcos adds. Marcos concludes by saying that as with any process, some trial and error was involved but since the team had all the resources that it needed in-house, it was easier to finish the Origami Car.
For this project, Lexus gave the team a digital 3D model based on the IS. It was then divided into the different principal parts like the dashboard, seats, wheels, and main body. These parts were then rendered digitally in 10mm “slices.” This gave the team the two-dimensional profiles that it needed in order to laser-cut every one of the 1,700 10mm-thick cardboard sheets.
The sheets were provided by DS Smith. Since the entire assembly of the Origami Car was to be done by hand, the team gave each of the layers their very own reference number. This was to make sure that the pieces were assembled in the correct sequence.
To connect the pieces, the group used water-based/wood glue, which needed to set around 10 minutes after being applied. This was a critical step considering that once the glue had dried, changes could not be made anymore.
Accuracy in assembling the car was highly important. Marcos relates that with the project it felt as if they made their very own production line. While there was indeed a lot of repetition involved, the work was done with military precision, very similar to the effort made by teams that work on real Lexus cars, concludes Marcos.