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Leaf-inspired design reduces a car’s weight

August 7th, 2015 / By: / EcoNote

While it’s unlikely that an EDAG Light Cocoon will be roaring down a street near you anytime soon, polyamide parts are already used in automotive manufacturing. However, 3-D printing (or additive manufacturing) for complex vehicle structures is a potentially revolutionary notion. Photo: EDAG Engineering AG
While it’s unlikely that an EDAG Light Cocoon will be roaring down a street near you anytime soon, polyamide parts are already used in automotive manufacturing. However, 3-D printing (or additive manufacturing) for complex vehicle structures is a potentially revolutionary notion. Photo: EDAG Engineering AG

Inspired by 3D printing, sportswear fabric and a common leaf, EDAG Engineering AG, a German engineering firm in the automotive industry, has developed the EDAG Light Cocoon concept car. The company brought the striking vehicle to the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015 to illustrate how biometric design could reduce a sports car’s weight by approximately 25 percent through material technology.

A leaf consists of a branching, load-bearing network under a flexible lightweight skin. EDAG head designer Johannes Barckmann envisioned a lightweight vehicle with a skeleton-like frame. “We are pursuing the vision of sustainability—as demonstrated by nature: lightweight, efficient, without any waste and with a result that weighs considerably less,” says Barckmann. The Light Cocoon’s skeleton is computer generated in pieces on a 3D printer and assembled to make the car’s frame. These “bones” put material mass (100 percent polyamide) only where it is needed for function, safety and stiffness.

A leaf also inspired the Light Cocoon’s skin, and outdoor apparel manufacturer Jack Wolfskin GmbH and Co. KGaA, Idstein, Germany, provided the fabric to fit the lightweight theme. Texapore Softshell O2+ is a triple-layered polyester jersey with just the right properties: it’s light, durable, watertight, breathable, elastic and transparent. Stretched smoothly over the sports car’s aeronautic shape, and illuminated by LED lights inside the car, the Texapore Softshell O2+ skin reveals the car’s organic skeleton and makes it glow like a living organism.