Lexus unveils fully drivable car made from cardboard

| 24 comments

Japanese car brand Lexus used 1,700 individually shaped cardboard sheets to create a fully functional replica of its IS saloon model (+ slideshow).

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Inspired by origami, the full-size sculpture was produced as a celebration of the human craftsmanship behind each Lexus car.

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London-based companies LaserCut Works and Scales and Models were commissioned to complete the project, which took three months in total to finish.

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The studios were provided with a 3D model of the existing IS saloon, which they then divided into principal parts, including the main body, dashboard, seats and wheels.

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These sections were digitally rendered as 10-millimetre slices, then laser cut from the cardboard and given individual reference numbers to ensure the car was assembled in the correct sequence.



Every layer was fixed together by hand using a water-based wood glue, which had to be left to set for 10 minutes after each application.

"This was a very demanding job, with five people involved in the digital design, modelling, laser cutting and assembly," said Scales and Models founder and director Ruben Marcos.

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An electric motor used to power the vehicle is mounted on a steel and aluminium frame is housed within the model. The car also features a fully fitted interior, functioning doors, headlights and rolling wheels.

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"The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining," said Marcos. "Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could identify where we needed to make improvements."

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"As with anything, there were some elements of trial and error, but as we had all the resources we needed in-house, this made the changes easier to produce," he continued.

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The cardboard Origami Car will be on show as part of the Grand Designs Live event at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, UK, from 8 to 11 October 2015.

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Earlier this year, Lexus revealed its Back to the Future-style hoverboard, which uses magnetic fields to carry its rider without touching the ground.

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Cardboard has previously been used to create a waterproof bicycle that costs less than £10 to manufacture.

  • Nick

    Imagine the paper cuts you’d get just trying to change gear!

  • Andersei

    Saying this is inspired by origami is like saying any marble facade is inspired by Michelangelo’s David. Origami is about the technique of folding paper into shape, this is simply carved from cardboard.

    • Thomas

      Could it be inspired from origami, without actually BEING origami, you think? It’s not like they said it was actual origami.

      • Concerned Citizen

        No, the cardboard cutouts have no relation to origami, except that both are wood-based products. It is more relevant to paper dolls.

        • Thomas

          Sure it could! You just don’t understand the term “inspired by”.

          • Concerned Citizen

            Sure I do, apparently you don’t.

        • Frank

          You are wrong. I bet it was inspired by origami.

          • Sijon

            Roots maybe origami but it’s defiantly inspired by the cardboard movie projector by Pizza Hut. They probably aimed to go viral, as it lacks the functionality of Pizza Hut.

    • Jack Twist

      I assume they were talking about the white origami sitting there.

  • SteveLeo

    CARdboard.

    • tzaar

      CardBORED.

  • Design lurker

    Does it come with a cigarette lighter?

  • Concerned Citizen

    It’s not so clever or “new”, and the full potential of the cutting technology was not exploited.

    Many years ago, before CNC machining, Domtar Gypsum built a Porsche from one-inch gypsum board. That was clever. For many years now, cardboard has been made into functional furniture, at first manually, and later by machines. That was new.

    All the cuts in the cardboard are perpendicular to the faces. The technology should have been tweaked so that the cuts followed the contours of the shapes. Oh well, it’s just Lexus, another “me too” outfit.

  • This is definitely dumb.

  • Vigarano

    The Lexus Shigeru Ban…

  • chronologic

    Doesn’t this seem like a colossal make-work project? And what relationship does cardboard have to Lexus, supposedly a luxury brand anyway? THANKFULLY this is recyclable!

    • mcmlxix

      Not to praise this project, but wouldn’t any temporary artwork be a make-work project? Still, we make such things.

  • james

    “I’ll take four” – Shigeru Ban.

  • sliced

    Conceptually I don’t understand this project at all. How is laser-cut cardboard a “celebration of human craftsmanship”? Where is the connection between a low-cost material and pricey cars from Lexus?

    • dab

      Completely agree, my first reaction too. It seems beyond pointless to me, and not very original at all. Also, use some other kind of glue if it’s such a pain in the arse!

  • Caroline Leonard

    Very similar to our Puma F1 car that we (MJ Group) made: http://www.mjgroup.co.uk/cardboard-engineering/

    • Deeeeeh

      It’s not though is it.

  • Chemistry Rocks!

    Just don’t leave it out in the rain!

  • Michael Szajna

    Just think of the good they could have done with the money spent on this completely useless (albeit recyclable) piece of garbage for humanitarian efforts instead. Idiots.