AUDI design wall: behind the scenes at the AUDI toolmaking factory
image © designboom

 

 

 

designboom was invited to AUDI‘s factory in ingolstadt, where we had an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the automotive company’s largest headquarters dedicated to toolmaking (there are five in total worldwide), and received the inside scoop on how all 1800 miniature models of AUDI’s 1980s urquattro were produced for a massive installation at the pinakothek der moderne (see designboom’s original coverage of the ‘AUDI design wall’ here) that was just revealed to the public.

 

the story behind the work started out from july of this year, when AUDI’s head designer wolfgang egger introduced the challenge to AUDI’s automotive lightweight construction department in ingolstadt. he gave them the task of finding a quick solution for developing a high-quality 1:18 scale model of AUDI’s 1980’s urquattro within a short time-frame. creating a bit of friendly internal competition among AUDI designers, the team was posed with the challenge to develop an object that communicates with the onlooker. after evaluating various options of fabrication and materials, it was obvious. klaus lensing, project director of the department suggested tapping into what AUDI has expertise in and suggested creating aluminum models using the milling process — the car company has been manufacturing high-strength aluminum frame structures for more than 20 years, and no other automotive brand has such experience with the material in the development of lightweight constructions.

 

 


behind the scenes look at AUDI’s design wall at the pinakothek der moderne
video © felix von boehm

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
1,800 models of the urquattro made from pure aluminum form a ‘carpet’ for the AUDI design wall
image © designboom

 

 

each copy of the urquattro has been milled down to form from a seven-kilogram block of aluminum in a very small production run which highlights AUDI’s proficiency in toolmaking expertise. the resulting models weigh 860 grams and cover the entire wall of a room at the pinakothek that has been selected especially for this installation. precisely positioned, the 1800 cars act as a backdrop to AUDI’s newly unveiled sport quattro concept coupe (presented at the IAA 2013 frankfurt motor show), whereby a full-size model of the vehicle vertically scales the space. the ‘AUDI design wall’ visualizes the past and the future of the AUDI brand,’ explains professor dr. ulrich hackenberg, AUDI AG member of the board of management for technical development. it presents within the museum setting the core values and technologies used in the production of the quattro.

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
final version of the 1:18 scale aluminum model of the legendary urquattro with a matte lacquer finishing
image © designboom

 

 

designboom spoke with max-herbert wagner, head of tooling lightweight constructions and asked him about the history of the urquattro, and the initial thoughts on how to revive the AUDI quattro:

 

‘quattro stands for AUDI, or better: quattro is AUDI – no other term is so strongly connected to the brand. looking back to 1980, with the urquattro, AUDI was the first car-manufacturer who brought the permanent four-wheel-drive into series-production, available for the masses, with about 11.500 cars made.  followed by the rally version, the S1 and afterwards the S2, it was an innovation that went down in the history of the car industry; and since then (33 years) the technique of making the quattro has been continuously improved with the aim of bringing it to perfection. you could almost say that the quattro is a piece of art.’

 

‘seen from the design aspect, we have chosen the AUDI quattro (for this installation) because I think with its clear, straight lines from the front to the rear of the car, it is a primary example for good design. you can see the muscles of the car in the fender region, the body shape, and in the wheel area. quattro also stands  for dynamic, efficiency, high quality and safety.’ max-herbert wagner, head of tooling lightweight constructions

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
the urquattro model is hollow inside
image © designboom

 

 

 

‘the data set of the AUDI quattro already exists, so that the milling procedure could be developed accordingly. the machine was set to transform a massive aluminum block into the final light-weight car model throughout 7 steps, using milling tools of different shapes and sizes. we choose to use a special type of aluminum that could easily be employed for the reductive procedure and which has a high surface quality. in the first step the aluminum block is hollowed with a 32 R3 mill, shaping the lower part of the car body, including the wheels. then the body gets turned around and the upper surface is slowly shaved off step by step, from rough mill out through to very fine surface finishing achieved with cherry mills down to a tenth of a millimeter. usually, with the milling process, you can create a very smooth polished surface, up to a point that you cannot see the work process anymore. but professor dr. hufnagl, director of the pinakothek der moderne, preferred to give the model a more technical-looking touch that implies the production steps. as last step, the model is  finished with a special clear lacquer of matte quality.’ – klaus lensing, project director for tooling of lightweight constructions on the procedure of making all 1800 cars

 

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
the production series shows the various milling steps from the aluminum block to the final model
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
urquattro models awaiting refinement
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
starting as a massive aluminum block, the light weight model takes shape
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
first-round setting of the milling procedure
image © designboom

 

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
milling process
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
the model-form is nearly finished
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
adding the final details — the AUDI rings
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
milling machines at AUDI’s toolmaking factory in ingolstadt
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
(left): klaus lensing, project director for tooling lightweight constructions 
(right): max-herbert wagner, head of tooling lightweight constructions
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
three prototypes with different surface finishing – from a bigger band with of milling to very fine
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
prototype with two different milled surfaces
image © designboom

 

 

this protoype was shown to professor dr. hufnagl, director of die neue sammlung – the international design museum munich, who decided what type of finishing should be used on the surface of the models. professor dr. hufnagl, wanted a surface with a more technical-looking touch that implied the production steps behind the making of the cars. the left side of this prototype above was too rough and the right side was too fine, so they decided on something somewhere in the middle.

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
the urquattro models awaiting to be fixed individually onto the wall
image © designboom

 

 

behind the scenes at AUDI's largest toolmaking factory
the 1:18 scale aluminum models of the urquattro being installed
image © designboom