After sketches are drawn, images rendered, printed, sculpted, modified, scanned, evaluated, and refined, each part of your car becomes a three-dimensional “document” called a Design Quality Prove Out Model. For this month’s artifact of the month, we will look at one of the wheels in our collection that will be featured in our upcoming exhibition, Driven by Design.
The wheels are important in the overall look of a car, but they obviously also perform a serious function. Designers need to find balance between creating something that appeals to people aesthetically and that is structurally sound. Retired Design Director of Performance Vehicles, Tom Peters, shares, “We might have to be taking surfaces away here and there to reduce the mass, thinking about being able to fit tools, clear the brakes, fit the tires, wheel weights. These are incredibly complex. All that must be evaluated.”
It may go back and forth a few times until both engineers and the designers are happy. They will then create a model like this one on the REN Board. This is a dense material that can be cut accurately to give a perfect three-dimensional representation of a part before files are used to make the actual tooling for the production parts.
This one appears to be autographed. That is not exactly the case. These are the signatures of those signing off on the model as “ready to release from design” and move on to production. “It’s a document now,” Tom says, “It is an understanding and an agreement between disciplines—engineering, design, and manufacturing.”
Author: Bob Bubnis, Curator of Collections, Exhibits Manager at the National Corvette Museum