Are You Telling Me You Built A Lexus…Out Of Cardboard?

So, you want a new Lexus? Well then download yourself a free car, and cut it out on a laser. Add some glue, and bingo, you have yourself a fancy new ride. We’ll, not really.

Sure, this promo video is just a publicity stunt from Toyota (News flash: Your fancy Lexus is actually a Toyota) but we have to hand it to them, it worked. It’s basically 1700 individually shaped, laser cut cardboard cross-sections that are painstakingly stacked and glued together. What we like about this is the technique – that is making a 3D object from 2D.

Using 2D parts to create 3D shapes is nothing new. Most people’s first experience with this technique is with building model airplanes. Instead of cardboard, balsa wood sheets are cut into profiles and connected with stringers to form the shape of a plane. It turns out to be a very efficient way of making 3D structures when you only have 2D materials to work with. And with 3D software now in the hands of the masses, it’s never been a better time to try your hand at building in 3D. For a great example, see this carbon-fiber guitar made using Autodesks free 123D Make software. And don’t limit yourself to parallel layers, you can generate all sorts of shapes including furniture with the free and open source Sketch-Chair software. Which will come in handy, because you’ll most likely need a place to sit while you’re waiting for your new cardboard car to finish printing.

[via CNN]

32 thoughts on “Are You Telling Me You Built A Lexus…Out Of Cardboard?

    1. You could say the component shapes are 2D in the sense they’re technically (very shallow) prisms. They only have variation in 2 dimensions, in the third dimension each slice is the same all the way through.

  1. did that guy really just say hand craftsmanship the entire time this whole thing is being cut with a cnc laser cutter. he did nothing more than stack cardboard sheets there was no hand crafting done at all.

    1. The whole thing is gibberish!

      Sorta cool, but still it makes no sense to build a luxury car from cardboard – unless it is an art project about waste and life-cycles or something.. But this is advertising, not art.

      It seems to be…. Well the average IQ of humans isn’t that high, really, and logic is considered tyranny at this point in our society. Someone thought “yeah, a luxury car made of cardboard! bloody brilliant idea!”

        1. I didn’t mean to imply I think ‘people are getting stupider’ – but society certainly has limited patience for logic. Cant go forward looking back is the mantra of our era, after all.

          1. Ah yeah, if you’re saying most people are a bunch of shit-throwing monkeys, I’m with you all the way. I was just making a smartarsed point about IQ being normalised to 100. Technically correct, the best kind of correct.

  2. It was kind of amazing and unexpected that they actually powered this, but I noticed that the steering is non-functional – when you see it “driving” down the curved street at 3:05, it’s clear that it’s heading toward an eventual crash into the building.

    Unfortunately, the ultimate impression this makes on me is that that is a really ugly car. Or maybe I’m just old. Get that damn thing off my lawn!

    1. Seems to be stretched over a solid model made of cut-out foam. But that’s absolutely the best crocheting I’ve ever seen, thanks for that! I showed it to my friend, who wonders how anyone would end up doing something like that. I suppose you start off doing scarves.

  3. Interesting to hear him use the phrase “carbon copy”, going back to good old carbon paper and typewriters, the oldest document copying technology.

    I wondered where they got the source files from, thought maybe they laser-scanned the car, but nope, Toyota gave them the original CAD models. The end is surprising that it can support the weight of a man inside it. I guess the wheels don’t actually support it’s weight, that the little electric truck underneath provides the propulsion while the cardboard wheels stay elevated above the ground. Still, impressive how strong it is, I wonder how it manages to carry the driver? Glued composites can be strong, but not with corrugated cardboard. Is the whole structure really just cardboard?

    1. There is an artist that makes cardboard chairs for an insane price. I came across one um… somewhere… and it most certainly can support a human being. The chair takes advantage of cardboard “directionality” to carry the bulk of the weight.

      Cardboard’s strength is something even 5 year olds instinctively understands. Mine regularly makes laminated box beds and sleeps in them. Their biggest weakness is they attract the family cat.

  4. “and cut it out on a laser.” – with* a laser, you mean?
    “We’ll, not really.” – were you typing this on a phone with auto-correct?
    “individually shaped, laser cut” – you miss the hyphenation there, but then you use it here: “cardboard cross-sections.”
    “Autodesks” – Are we discussing multiple Autodesks? Or something belonging to Autodesk?

  5. Had a similar idea a few years ago. Spawned out of being a bit cack handed and a desire to build a car body skin. The idea was to translate model into slices, print the slices out, stick them to card then cut them and lay up. Then use filler to smooth off to leave a buck to take a moulding off.

    Nice to see it may actually be a viable option.

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