By: IOL Motoring Staff
London, England - The skilled technicians who work on the Lexus production lines are known as takumi, a Japanese word signifying a dedicated craftsman.
One of the exercises they learn to hone their dexterity is to fold a sheet of paper into an origami model cat - using only their non-dominant hand. Try it sometime.
Now Lexus, as part of its 'Creating amazing' advertising campaign, has taken that concept to a new level, commissioning British specialists LaserCut Works and Scales & Models to build a full-sized replica of the new IS sedan from 1700 laser-cut pieces of 10mm cardboard sheet.
And no, we're not talking about a cardboard box in the shape of a car. The origami Lexus has a fully fitted interior, working doors and rolling wheels. Thanks to an electric motor mounted on its steel and aluminium frame, it can even be driven.
Which is why it took five people three months to build.
Lexus provided a digital 3D model of the IS, which was then 'dismantled' into a series of principal parts, such as the body-shell, dashboard, seats and wheels.
The parts were digitally 'sliced' at 10mm intervals, in a simplified form of the process used in a CT scan, to create the two-dimensional profiles needed for laser-cutting the cardboard.
Each layer was given its own reference number to make sure it was assembled in the right sequence; the car was then put together entirely by hand, using water-based wood glue. Accuracy was vital because once the glue had set, which took about 10 minutes, no changes could be made.
It was the biggest and most complex project they had ever tackled and there were some challenges.
Scales & Models boss Reuben Marcos explained: “The seats took a few tries to get just right and the wheels needed a lot of refining.
“Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could see where we needed to make changes - as with anything, there was some trial and error, but we had everything we needed in-house, which made it easier.
“In effect we created our own production line,” he said. “There was a lot of repetition in the process and we had to work with total precision.”
The one-of-a-kind origami Lexus was the star of the launch of the 10th annual Grand Designs Live show in Birmingham, where it was actually driven on to the stage to begin the presentation.
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