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Oh my origami! Lexus builds life-size cardboard IS

THE ULTIMATE CARDBOARD CUT-OUT: Lifesize and mobile with an electric motor - it's the Lexus Origami Car version of the latest IS sedan. Image: Lexus
THE ULTIMATE CARDBOARD CUT-OUT: Lifesize and mobile with an electric motor – it’s the Lexus Origami Car version of the latest IS sedan. Image: Lexus

Forget swans and other bits of folded paper… a team of Lexus craftspeople has created a life-sized origami replica of the new IS sedan.

It looks almost realistic enough to drive… and it can be!

The five professional designers and modellers from specialist companies LaserCut Works and Scales and Models used precision-cut cardboard sheet from DS Smith.

The project took three months to complete – read on to find out why…

IT’S THE LEXUS ORIGAMI CAR

“The amazing model,” Lexus says, “was created as a celebration of the skills of the company’s takumi (artisan) craftsmen and women to capture the spirit of Creating Amazing in design and engineering.”

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The Lexus Origami Car, as it is called, required 1700 laser-cut cardboard sheets and, thanks to an electric motor mounted on its steel and aluminium frame, can be driven (video).

It also has a fully fitted interior, functioning doors and headlights, and rolling wheels.

THOUSANDS OF BITS - AND WOOD GLUE: Three months went into building the Lexus Origami Car, piece by piece. Image: Lexus
THOUSANDS OF BITS – AND WOOD GLUE: Three months went into building the Lexus Origami Car, piece by piece. Image: Lexus

“In terms of size and complexity,” Lexus added, “the project was an unprecedented undertaking for the London-based specialist companies with their extensive experience in the design and creation of prototypes and architectural models.”

Ruben Marcos, Scales and Models founder and director, explained: “This was a very demanding job with five people involved in the digital design, modelling, laser cutting and assembly.

“Just like Lexus, we were committed to producing the best possible quality.

“The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining. Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could identify where we needed to make improvements.

“As with anything there were some elements of trial and error but we had all the resources we needed in-house.”

SO HOW DID THEY DO IT?

Lexus provided the team with a digital 3D model of the IS which was then divided into a series of principal parts, such as the shell, dashboard, seats and wheels. These were then digitally rendered in 10mm-thick “slices” to provide the two-dimensional profiles needed for the laser cutting of each of the 1700 sheets of 10mm-thick cardboard.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE CABIN: The modellers worked with laser-cut cardboard and a 3D plan to create this masterpiece. Image: Lexus
COMPLETE AND ACCURATE CABIN: The modellers worked with laser-cut cardboard and a 3D plan to create this masterpiece. Image: Lexus

Each layer was given a reference number for hand-assembly in the correct sequence using water-based wood glue which had to be left to set for 10 minutes after each application.

“Accuracy was vital!” Lexus said. “Changes couldn’t be made once the glue had dried.”

Marcos added: “In effect we created our own vehicle production line. There was a lot of repetition and we had to work with military precision.”

The Origami Car took centre stage at the 10th anniversary of Grand Designs Live in Birmingham, England, as host and design guru Kevin McLoud drove the ‘Origami IS’ into the show.

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Oh my origami, Lexus builds life-size cardboard IS

STEERING-WHEEL, INSTRUMENT BINNACLE: Everything is card board - just don't drive it in the rain! Image: Lexus
STEERING-WHEEL, INSTRUMENT BINNACLE: Everything is card board – just don’t drive it in the rain! Image: Lexus

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