The weight on a designers shoulders when creating the next generation of an American icon like the 2015 Ford Mustang is huge. The car needs to take a leap forward in its design, but still needs to be instantly recognizable to consumers as the famous Ford pony car. To help with their daunting task, Ford designers relied heavily on one unexpected tool: tape.
Designing a new vehicle is a long process which begins with designers sketching their ideas on paper. From there, the team uses scaled down clay models and 3D CAD drawings to project their ideas, eventually moving on to full-size clay vehicles. Ford says clay is the ideal material for styling new cars, as it allows designers to explore options by carving new design elements into the body.
Designers use tape on the clay models to show the modelers which lines they wanted perfected on the car. Ford says tape provides an extra measure of precision in the design process, resulting in a life-size 3D interpretation of the car that cannot be replicated on a computer screen.
“Tape gives us a defined line that is like a carpenter laying a level line on a building,” said Larry Pelowski, Ford master modeler, exterior design. “So when the designers put tape on the model, there is no question what their intent is.”
Pelowski explains that tape offers a level of precision and artistry unmatched by other tools. It can be peeled off and re-taped until the designers find a line that they really want to pursue.
Using tape in car designing is not anything new. Auto designers used to draw entire, full size vehicles with tape when digital programs like CAD weren’t around.
“Tape was the medium of choice for creating life-size drawings,” said Garen Nicoghosian, Ford exterior design manager. “They’d stretch Mylar on large boards and do a full-size tape drawing, which captured the essence of the car. The idea of tape drawings has evolved over time, we’ve integrated digital media now and have technology that allows us to view full-size models based on CAD data, on very large display screens.”
In fact, Ford now uses tape on clay models so much, they say they go through about 155 miles worth of the stuff in one year.
See how tape helped style the 2015 Mustang in the video below.