The development of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class: The design
Stuttgart
Apr 11, 2012
The work methods of Mercedes-Benz Design: Eleven steps to a finished automobile
The path leading from the first drawing to the model approval takes around three years. In this time a Mercedes goes through an endless series of work steps in the course of which the designers, so to say, grope their way little by little to the final vehicle. From previously competing drafts, the team produces the next generation of a Mercedes-Benz.
1. Drawing/Rendering: at the beginning of the design process there is always a drawing – hand-sketched on a piece of paper, or on a screen. Ideas that had previously only existed in the designer's mind become visible.
2. Package:the basis for every design is the package, the sum of all the technical requirements. This is the basis upon which the sketches have to be implemented in such a way that proportions, dimensions and lines give a harmonious image.
3. 1:4 clay model:not everything can be simulated on the computer, which is why the next step is to create a clay model of every variant of a new automobile. Only then can the designers decide whether their drafts create the desired effect in three dimensions, too. At the same time virtual models are always created on the computer.
4. Model selection:the final form of the new car is chosen from numerous variants, in order to be formally examined in a 1:1 scale. With the help of scanning and milling machines the first full-size "prototypes" are made.
5. 1:1 model: all the individual details of the new model are fashioned by hand. A deceptively real-looking model is created. All the characteristic features of the new car reveal themselves.
6. Interior sketches: first drawings and renderings are created for the design of the interior. This is when the different equipment lines are born, i.e. the interiors where the future driver has to feel at ease. The leit motif here: "Perfect aesthetics" – a design that feels committed to beauty.
7. Interior clay model:the best way for the designer to experience the development of the form is with a 1-in-1 clay model, built, so to say, from the inside out. All the details are modelled until an aesthetically top-quality spatial feeling is created. As a rule, three alternative interiors are built for a decision to be made.
8. Colour & trim / operating and display concept (control and display system): the material and colour options for the vehicle interior are determined. From hundreds of fabric and leather samples as well as a virtually endless colour spectrum the equipment variants for the future motor vehicle are determined. All the control and display elements are designed and developed to the optimum.
9. Interior data control model:all the materials and colours are tested for effect on sophisticated 1-in-1 interior models under "real-life conditions". Every material and every colour receives a code and is specified.
10. Final model:the exterior and the interior with all their details are brought together to make a model. A deceptively realistic representation is created. All the characteristic features of the new car reveal themselves. The exterior shape of the future Mercedes-Benz model becomes tangible.
11. Model approval: The final point of every design process is the model approval by the Board. If this is successful, there is nothing more to stop the production of the new Mercedes-Benz.
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