We've seen some unusual uses of cardboard before, including for a skateboard deck and for furniture. Lexus has perhaps trumped everything else though, by building a full-size, drivable cardboard car. The Origami Car is a faithful and life-size version of the Lexus IS saloon.
The project is, of course, a bit of a publicity stunt, albeit on the premise of celebrating Lexus’s "takumi craftsmen and women." It is, nonetheless, an impressive achievement, especially given the finished model is actually driveable.
The Origami Car was created in partnership with LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, with a team of five professional designers and modelers. In total, 1,700 cardboard sheets, each 10-mm (0.4-in) thick, were used to make it, having been laser-cut to the correct size.
The model IS was built upon a steel and aluminum frame and is powered by an electric motor to move it forward or backward. Other than that, it has a fully fitted interior, functioning doors, headlights and rolling wheels, all formed from the layered cardboard sheets.
The design of the car was based on a 3D model provided by Lexus. The team divided the model into a number of sections, including main body, the dashboard, the seats and the wheels. The cardboard sheets were then cut and numbered to help with assembly. They were then layered together by hand with a water-based glue to make the sections.
"The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining," explains Scales and Models Company founder and director Ruben Marcos. "Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could identify where we needed to make improvements – as with anything, there were some elements of trial and error, but as we had all the resources we needed in-house, this made the changes easier to produce."
The Origami car took three months to build. The video below provides an overview of the project.