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Designed by consumers with help from Stratasys.

Many consumers choose a car as a means of expressing themselves. But most of the time, it is the vision of the vehicle’s designer that the customer selects, rather than their own. Daihatsu Motor Company, a manufacturer of small and lightweight cars based in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan, wanted to place more customization and design freedom directly into the hands of its customers. The automaker relied on Stratasys 3D Printing technology and expertise to bring the customer into the design process in a totally new way.

A man inspecting a 3d part with texture.
Takehiro Koyama shows one of the Effect Skin designs produced on a Fortus 3D printer.

Stratasys partnered with leadership at Daihatsu, along with outside design partners, to create Effect Skins – intricate, tactile patterns built with Stratasys 3D Printers. When placed on the front and rear bumpers of the Daihatsu Copen, a popular two-door convertible, the Effect Skins frame the head and tail lights, creating a flash of expression as the “face” of the car.

 

Osamu Fujishita, general manager of the product planning division for Daihatsu, said the automaker chose the Copen model for the Effect Skins because owners are enthusiasts who have a tremendous passion for their cars, and enjoy sharing it by customizing them. This project harnessed direct digital manufacturing to produce production parts – instead of prototypes – engineered to withstand real-world conditions on the exterior of the car.

Design freedom for customer personalization.

Bringing the Effect Skins to life required a team of automotive insiders and outsiders to work collaboratively with Stratasys experts.

 

Kota Nezu, whose Tokyo-based company Znug Design manages planning and design for industrial products, such as cars and motorcycles, served as a facilitator between Daihatsu and Sun Junjie, a 3D modeling artist. Junjie had extensive experience in the fashion industry as well as a deep understanding of Stratasys technology but was a newcomer to the automotive industry. That perspective was a perfect fit for the Effect Skins project and helped open up a world of design possibilities.
“Using Stratasys 3D printing technology to customize and supply parts to customers and to allow self-expression within a single car is, I believe, a first.”
Osamu Fujishita, Daihatsu Motor Company
Four of the same 3d printed parts with different textures.
Effect Skin designs created using ASA thermoplastic.

Drawing inspiration from nature and fashion, Junjie and Nezu developed 15 patterns, with themes ranging from geometric to organic. Because the customer can adjust the parameters of the designs themselves, there are exponentially more styles and preferences that can be personally customized.

 

Daihatsu 3D printed the Effect Skins in ASA thermoplastic, which is durable and enables thin, but sturdy walls. It is also available in 10 colors, allowing for even more design possibilities. The ability to quickly 3D print and test design concepts and iterations empowered Junjie to experiment with many different design algorithms and iterate numerous styles quickly.
Two designers looking over 3d printed parts.
Stratasys 3D printing allowed Sun Junjie and Kota Nezu to create multiple quick design iterations.

“Normally, there is a gap in the process in going from data created with 3D CAD to producing the object—the modeling and the actual sculpting are different areas,” Junjie said. “This project would not have been possible with traditional manufacturing or tooling methods,” Nezu said.