By Gary S. Vasilash
The metaverse notwithstanding, when it comes to developing the designs of most vehicles—particularly when those vehicles are intended to be things that are duplicated thousands of times over several years—there is something to be said for physical objects.
To be sure, there are software design packages that designers use to create designs to a degree that are not merely photorealistic, but which can be manipulated in VR space.
These designs seem real. But those designs aren’t real.
Crossovers, cars and trucks, unlike digital models, exist in real reality, not virtual reality.
The sun shines on them. Clouds occlude the sun. Shadows form. Surfaces pop or fade.
Vehicle designs will exist in the tangible world.
So while there are vehicles that are completely designed in math (after all, that’s what software is), there are more vehicles designed with the aid of clay.
Yes, that substance that you may remember playing with as a child.
Well, not exactly that, as there is a variant of the material that is formulated to be used in automotive design studios.
But substantially the same.
The material is used to create full-size models of vehicles.
In order to make one of these models in a reasonable amount of time the clay is milled with cutting tools.
The producer of clay milling machines (as well as a number of other machine tools that are used on metals) is TARUS. In fact, the company invented the clay mill in response to a request from General Motors.
Does the clay mill still matter?
On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” we decided to find out. So we asked Doug Grieg, Jr., co-owner of TARUS. To get some good perspective, “Autoline’s” John McElroy and I are joined by John Manoogian II, who had spent 35 years at GM Design, with his last position being director of Exterior design for Cadillac.
Anyone who wants to know the ground truth about automotive design cannot miss this show, which you can see right here.