Taking its cue from biological structures, a new prototype sports car out of Germany uses a textile outer skin stretched over a 3D-printed skeletal frame.
The Light Cocoon sportscar, from German design firm EDAG, is a "bionically inspired" vehicle made from ultra-lightweight materials. The guiding design principle - to create an optimized structure, inspired by biological principles, in which materials are kept to an absolute minimum.
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"We are pursuing the vision of sustainability as demonstrated by nature: lightweight, efficient, and without any waste," explains EDAG's head designer Johannes Barckmann on the Light Cocoon project page. "The result ... a stable, branch-like load-bearing structure from the 3-D printer, which only uses material where it is absolutely necessary."
The designers aren't giving any specifics on the composition of the frame or the textile skin, but they do note that the fabric is weatherproof and four times lighter than standard copier paper. Good for keeping the rain off, but probably not great in a fender bender. Or a stiff breeze.
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The fabric membrane is translucent and the vehicle has a built-in backlighting system designed to illuminate the skeletal, organic features of the 3D-printed frame. To develop the fabric, the EDAG team partnered with European outdoor clothing company Jack Wolfskin.
If nothing else comes of this, we note that Jack Wolfskin is an entirely excellent name for a outdoor clothing company. The EDAG Light Cocoon will make its first public appearance at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.