The Pilkington Vehicle Design Awards, presented during the prestigious Royal College of Art’s Show RCA ceremony, have become a benchmark for talent in the automotive industry. Scooping this year’s top prize is a project with a 3D printing twist.
Nir Siegel’s Audi Genesis project garnered the Design Interpretation Award, the concept asks if future tech will allow s a completely customisable and self-assembling car. Genesis is a 3D printer that is capable of printing a car around itself. Once customized and purchased, Genesis will be delivered to a customers' door and assemble itself.
The awards, which are in their 26th year, are a must for potential employers in the motor industry on the lookout for fresh talent. Nir is sure to be on many a company’s radar, he’s certainly on Personalize’s we caught up with the winner once the champagne stopped flowing to ask him a few pressing questions...
Hi Nir, so first things first what gave you the idea of using 3D printing in the first place?
3D printing has been around for a while, and is used in the automotive industry already. What is new about this project is the radically new user experience, where you can customise, update and build your own vehicle. The idea originally started from the dissertation that I was writing about science fiction and it's role of shaping our reality, basically I was a little disappointed that the future I grew up seeing and reading about in the 80's didn't come true, and in this project I was trying to push the boundaries of what is already technologically feasible.
I imagined a scenario that I would like to participate in, a car that I would like to have and build in my garage, what would be a user experience that the people I know myself included would appreciate.
Using 3D printing was just logical, it fits perfectly with the concept of a car that builds itself, gives the user the possibility to get involved and something that is pushing the boundaries of technology and creating a new vision.
Do you think we'll see a 3D printed car in the next five years?
Whilst researching 3D printing, I found the Urbee, it may not be fully 3d printed - nor is my vision - but it is definitely an interesting use of technology. We still need to learn how to truly master it for its benefits and flaws. I don’t think that we will see a fully 3d printed car in the next 5 years, and probably not ever, but it may become more commonplace.
How do you think the idea of a self-assembling car could affect jobs in the industry if your vision comes true?
This conceptual project is meant to inspire and get people thinking, both within and outside the industry. Even though it is theoretically plausible and possible I don’t believe that it will ever be used, not in full. Furthermore, even if my concept does come true, I find it hard to believe that it will be the only way to make cars, there will obviously be "regular" cars still out there. The market is only getting bigger, there will be many different kinds of vehicles with all different types of manufacturing processes. This concept may cut down on the factory workers but many other jobs could be introduced. We have seen over a long period of time, the home printer didn't destroy the printing industry - on the contrary it gave it a boost. So the future could benefit from new ways of thinking, new ways of making things, and probably new ways of owning things and that is exactly what this project is about.
The automotive industry already uses 3D printing regularly for prototyping purposes, do you think that 3D printing will become more commonplace in automotive manufacturing?
3D Printing is a very effective method of manufacturing but it cannot and will not solve all our problems. It will go hand-in-hand with other manufacturing methods that have been perfected over the years.I'll give you an example; back in the 50's when Bakelite was invented, people thought - that it is going to be the future, that everything could be made out Bakelite, but over time people realised that it is just one technology out of many, and it was changed and perfected and it evolved but still there is no one magic technology that can do it all - and I would say that same goes for 3d printing.
Though this project does heavily rely on 3D printing it is not solely about that- and that is why I named it “A car that builds itself" and not "The 3D printed car". The most important aspect of this project is changing pre-conceived conceptions of what a car is and how it is made. What could it be using a vast array of theoretically possible technological innovation? The projects is aimed at encouraging us to make the most of what is already possible and get people to ask questions.