Stratasys 3DFashion Platform Used to 3D Print Stunning Vehicle Interiors

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Italdesign, a leading engineering and design firm with particular expertise in the automotive industry, announced that it is using the Stratasys 3DFashion platform to print interiors for the company’s latest concept vehicle, the Climb-E. Unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in Las Vegas, the Climb-E is idiosyncratic even for the world of autonomous concept vehicles: half dwelling, half elevator, it is the product of a collaboration between Italdesign, elevator manufacturer Schindler, and the Polytechnic University of Turin.

Interestingly, then, this makes the work that Italdesign did on the Climb-E interior one of the most practical applications of the entire project. Using the Stratasys J850 TechStyle 3D printer, Italdesign fabricated graphics directly onto Alcantara, a commonly used synthetic textile in the auto industry. The durable fabric is especially popular as a substitute for suede, making it an optimal material for automotive seating.

According to Italdesign, the firm’s senior Color, Materials, Finish (CMF) designer, Claudia Gilardi, was instantly sold on Stratasys 3DFashion when she attended last year’s Milan Design Week. At that event, Stratasys unveiled a whole 3D printed fashion line, the SSYS 2Y22 Reflection Collection. Gilardi and her team used the J850 TechStyle to print rear horizontal backrest surfaces for the Climb-E, in colors that shift depending on the observer’s angle.

In a press release about using Stratasys 3DFashion for the Climb-E concept vehicle, Gilardi explained, “Through its ability to uniquely combine transparencies and special chromatic effects, the 3DFashion technology can be used to convey a sense of real, and the same time virtual, color. …I see two very interesting uses for the Stratasys 3DFashion technology in automotive. Firstly, for the production of prototypes, with the reduced lead times and costs, that also brings 3D printed textures to complement standard coating materials. Secondly, customization. For example, 3D printing onto mesh through which light can shine can create very innovative effects with backlighting — an area ripe for experimentation! In future, combining 3D printing onto textiles with embedded electronics could give novel ways of interacting with the functions of the space.”

As far as I’m concerned, that last sentence sums up the real substance of this whole Climb-E endeavor. Call me skeptical, but it’s hard for me to believe that Earth has enough resources to support a hypothetical craze for detachable, autonomous elevator-homes. On the other hand, 3D printed interiors for the automotive industry are very much a real thing. So are any number of potential applications related to 3D printing sensors for wearable electronics, which is essentially the same fundamental concept here. It is easy to imagine that particular version of mass personalization taking off with the exact demographic that buys luxury automobiles.

This is a reassuring reminder that there is still some method to the madness of the global consumer society. As far-fetched as any individual project may seem, there is always embedded in the details at least some small kernel of something real going on.

Images courtesy of Italdesign

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