Many industries have been transformed by the 3D printing revolution, according to [Insider Business] Clay modeling is still used by the car industry to create life-sized replicas. Below is a video that shows the fascinating process of making foam and clay look like a real car. Unlike the old days, they do use a milling machine to do some rough work on the model, but there’s still a surprising amount of manual work involved. You can see how difficult it was to make these older films.
The cost of these models isn’t cheap. According to them, some models were created at $650,000. Most of this is in salaries. Some models require four years of work and a lot more clay.
A film is applied to the clay to give it a more plastic-like or sheet metal appearance. 3D printing is a modern method of creating pieces, such as logos or headlights. They also use 3D scanners to send the model’s shape to designers for feedback. The model must be updated if the designers make any changes.
You’d think computer modeling would be sufficient, but apparently, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing. They also use smoke wands for studying air flow around the proposed vehicle shapes. Perhaps one day they will be able to use pure CAD render and VR goggles but right now they pay clay modelers for replicas.
3D printing is a popular method of creating concept cars. However, 3D printing an entire car will require assembly from individual parts or larger printers.