rapid prototyping honda driverless cars



Rapid Prototyping Driverless Car Models by Honda



For the automotive innovators of the world, self-driven cars or autonomous driving is set to become one of the milestones of the generation. However, we have very little idea on how the face of the future is going to be. City dwellers love the idea because driverless cars are marketed as a solution to some of the most frustrating problems of the commuter,  from traffic congestion to finding parking spots that are miles away from your destination. Yet, driverless cars can also be our ticket to freedom, adventure, and exploration instead of being just another problem solving mechanism. The road trip of our dreams will soon be driverless in the future! “Honda. Great Journey” was an amazingly whimsical, creative, and inspirational brand campaign that sought to answer the question of what the future will be like. The most special part, however, is the fact that beautiful 3D printed car models were featured in this one of a kind campaign.


For the project, Honda joined forces with 3D printing and rapid prototyping firm, Ogle, as well as two design studios, Mori Inc. and Map, inviting us on a journey to think outside the box when it comes to driverless cars. With these companies, Honda put together seven intricate and amazingly detailed concept cars through 3D printing. These were to showcase the technological development of the company while taking viewers on a geographical journey ranging from Kenya to Brazil. This route has a great symbolic significance as it happens to be one of the longest human migration routes in history spanning seven districts, very difficult terrain including mountains, water bodies, deserts and the icy tundra. Originally though, Mori and Map were commissioned to design a shape shifting vehicle that could travel throughout this entire diverse and challenging terrain. They changed their plans though, and decided to create seven different vehicles that have features tailored to adapt to the climate conditions and elevate and enhance the driver’s travel experience for each terrain.


These special cars are not just about getting people from location A to location B. The experience of the journey is what matters, and these cars let the passengers sit back and relax as they drive themselves. There is a wonderful Tundra Sled model that features some electric Honda drones for sensing cracks in ice, a hot tub, built in telescope etc. for a wholesome experience to enjoy the beautiful night sky.

These dreamy concept cars were brought to life by Ogle, a UK based 3D printing firm. Ogle printed these cars by Mori and Map into reality with utmost care even though the firm works with rapid prototyping and professional model making. Printing these amazing cars was no easy task as it demanded a lot of accuracy from both their staff and their machines. According to Ogle Sales and Marketing Director Dave Bennion, the finish of each car had to be perfect to make the end products look seamless when these were finally filmed. There was absolutely no room for error while trying to achieve the required component parts and paint finishes for these futuristic concept cars.

The process involved scaling the car models down from their original 1:1 to just about 1:24- this is the size of the regular toy cars available in the market. In spite of dramatically shrinking them down, the company was to retain the intricate details as well as the functionality of an otherwise full sized concept vehicle. Several SLA 3D printing machines were used by Ogle to achieve the highest standard of precision. 3D printing is famous for providing a smoother, more seamless surface finish than other methods like stereolithography or FDM, resulting in overall better professional quality. Ogle’s SLA technician, Dave Foster, explained that they had a few options on the machine that they chose to build the car parts with. These included the SLA 3500, two SLA Vipers and iPro 8000. The parts were constructed using all of these printers for various different reasons that included accuracy and speed. These machines could meet the accuracy to a scale of 0.1 mm for each 100 mm of material. This precision was of great significance for the project when it came to assembling the car parts, as well as reducing the time in the workshop post production.


There was an astounding amount of precision that went into every single 3D printed model car- starting from the initial CAD design, 3D printing, final assembly and hand painting the cars. Even with Ogle’s precision of the professional SLA 3D printers, some parts were so small that even these printers could not do them. Hence, these decorative parts were hand crafted with copper wires and stainless steel components. The team that was assigned to the job of painting these vehicles also had to keep in mind the variety of the terrain. They devised many innovative methods to bring to life the realistic effects. The snow effect in the Tundra model’s tires, the mesh hammock finish on the Island Hopper model, etc. exhibit great attention to detail. The hammock in particular needed a source of multiple fabrics of net and lacquering for the parts made of SLA. The models were tested post final assembly in an extensive manner to ensure that every mobile part would still be functional in their designated terrains.


The “Honda. Great Journey” video is a visual treat as a result of the combined efforts of Map, Mori, Honda and Ogle. The project was fun, whimsical as well as technically amazing as the cars retained their retro vibe even though they were futuristic. For example, all the vehicles looked similar to the Honda camper vans from the 60’s, adding a much missed nostalgic and comforting effect to these futuristic new cars. While other automobile companies are revealing their own versions of futuristic 3D printed cars such as Buick’s luxury Avista or BMW’s shape shifter; Honda’s campaign stands out as it explores the adventure and the excitement of driverless cars. The company is also all set to reveal their first ever driverless vehicles by the year 2020.




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