A video and story of Haruo Yuki, a senior clay modeler at Nissan since 1978, who has helped shaping more than 60 cars including the all-new Nissan Z.
From the official story:
Yuki believes that by using digital programs alone, it’s difficult to express an emotional allure and depth when it is transitioned to a physical form at scale.
“I’ve found that designs come to life only when we explore the shapes with our hands,” he said. “After being part of the creative process for dozens of cars, I have yet to see the emotional nuances of a design fully interpreted by a computer. I think that the favorite parts of a design for people come from the clay modeler successfully conveying shape and proportion. With the new Z, I don’t think the final appearance would have been possible had we relied on computers and software alone.”
Taking an idea and giving it physical form is a multistep process at Nissan. Typically, the design of a future vehicle must first be entered in a global design competition among Nissan’s design studios. After rounds of selections and 3-D modeling, it’s time for Yuki and his team to step in to help realize the model’s final physical form.
“To build a full-scale model, we first start with a quarter-scale clay model, then scan it and turn it into a model that’s four times larger using digital data. We then begin the process of forming the full-scale model with a large slab of clay. We have an oven where we heat the clay. Straight from the oven we start adding material and shaping it by hand. When the clay cools a bit we can use tools to scrape and add form as it begins to harden at room temperature.
“We completed the full-size clay model for the new Z in about three weeks. A full-scale clay model has an aluminum frame with axles so we can install wheels and tires. The total weight of the finished clay product is about 1.6 tons, so it’s a bit heavier than an actual car,” Yuki said.
Read the full story at Nissan’s official website.