EDAG Light Cocoon shines on stage at the Geneva Motor Show

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
The Edag Light Cocoon on display at the Geneva Motor Show has a name that sounds like a high-end lamp, and if you catch the model at just the right moment, it actually looks like one too.

The complicated structure underneath the skin on the Light Cocoon takes inspiration from tree branches and leaves, and the design is meant to maximize strength with a minimum of material. All of the work comes out of Edag's three-dimensional printers. Like the company's previous concepts, this model isn't coming to the road, and the German engineering firm doesn't even mention a powertrain for it. Instead, the point on display here is entirely to prove what's possible.

The Light Cocoon might be cool enough as a showcase of 3d printing tech, but Edag has another trick up its sleeve to really draw a crowd in Geneva. The company stretches Texapore Softshell 02+ fabric from German outdoor company Jack Wolfskin over the concept's body. This material is lightweight, elastic, waterproof and most importantly for this application, somewhat translucent. By placing LEDs underneath the skin, the skeletal frame underneath comes into stark relief. It almost makes the model look like a little night light on the Swiss show floor.
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The 'EDAG Light Cocoon'. Engineering specialists EDAG can now, with their 16th concept car, provide an impressive idea of the ultimate in future lightweight construction - and incidentally present completely new standards for automobile aesthetics and design.

The 'EDAG Light Cocoon' is a visionary approach towards a compact, dynamic sports car, with a fully bionically optimised, additively manufactured vehicle structure combined with a weatherproof textile outer skin panel. That is the technical side. The result is a conscious break with existing paradigms. The 'EDAG Light Cocoon' has a pola-rising effect, and the idea is for it to rearrange existing thought patterns in vehicle design. For this unusual and visionary concept, EDAG built up a partnership with outdoor specialists Jack Wolfskin. Their extremely lightweight outdoor textile 'Texapore SOFTSHELL O2+' pro-vides ideal weather protection for the 'EDAG Light Cocoon'. LED lighting technology installed behind the textile outer skin panel makes the vehicle's skele-ton-like, organic structure visible, highlighting the vehicle's new, independent look to perfection.

Following the success of the EDAG GENESIS last year, EDAG have expanded their vision of a bionically inspired body structure. "We are pursuing the vision of sustainability – as demonstrated by nature: lightweight, efficient, without any waste, and with a result that weighs considerable less" explains EDAG's head designer, Johannes Barckmann. When the 'EDAG Light Cocoon' was being designed, its body was not regarded as a closed surface. Instead, an approach was adopted in which material was only actually used in areas where it was necessary for function, safety and stiffness.

"The result is the 'EDAG Light Cocoon': a stable, branch-like load bearing structure which meets all requirements imposed on structurally relevant components, despite the fact that less material has been used," adds Johannes Barckmann. To first of all quantify and then verify the lightweight potential of a bionically designed structure, this approach had previously been used in the design of the bonnet of a production vehicle, and then calculated. It goes without saying, of course, that in extremely lightweight concepts of this type any requirements regarding torsional and flexural stiffness and pedestrian protection must be met. The ensuing result was a spider-like, hollow structure designed for an assembly of aluminium profiles of different thicknesses. The calculation results confirmed two things: that the stability requirements were met, and that a weight saving of approx. 25 % was achieved with this bonnet.

The EDAG designers took nature as their inspiration for the ultimate, lightweight outer skin. The leaf of a plant served as the blueprint for the innovative design of the body shell. Just like the structure of a leaf, which has a lightweight outer skin stretched over it, a lightweight protective skin covers the 'EDAG Light Cocoon' – though in this case, it is made of a textile fabric. In Jack Wolfskin, outdoor specialists, the ideal project partner was found to supply a tried and tested stretch fabric that is also extremely weatherproof, to serve as the new outer body skin. "For us, the fascinating thing about the 'EDAG Light Cocoon' is the combination of two technological innovations – the vehicle structure, fully bionically optimised by EDAG, and the lightweight Jack Wolfskin TEXAPORE SOFTSHELL O2+ weather protection material," explained Elke Stein, Jack Wolfskin's Director of Marketing. "We see this as a chance to make an innovative mark beyond the limits of the outdoor sector – and EDAG is the perfect partner here."

TEXAPORE SOFTSHELL O2+ is a triple-layered polyester jersey fabric, which is extremely lightweight, durable and watertight. The material's excellent elasticity is what qualified it for the bionic structure of the 'EDAG Light Cocoon', as it can provide a perfect fit und accentuate it to perfection. Thanks to an LED back light concept, the interaction between light, structure and fabric created an attractive - and above all - innovative vehicle design. "Even if it sounds futuristic to begin with, this approach has its own special appeal: weighing no more than 19 g/m², the Jack Wolfskin materials support maximum lightweight design requirements with minimum weight. TEXAPORE Softshell, which is what we use, weighs just 154 g/m², making it one of the lightest TEXAPORE materials on offer," comments EDAG CEO Jörg Ohlsen. "Combined with the bionically inspired, 3D-printed structure, it offers enormous potential and stimulus for the ultimate lightweight construction of the future."

Additive manufacturing methods (3D-print) might make it possible to implement bionic structures in the future

It is a well known fact that nature provides a perfect blueprint for technical products. The creation of such complex structures as the 'EDAG Light Cocoon' was hitherto a technical impossibility. Current advances in additive manufacturing have brought this aim one step closer to reality.

Reason enough for EDAG to use this technology for the creation of the current EDAG concept cars. The potential of additive manufacturing for the automotive industry can be described as revolutionary: it might become possible for complex structures to be produced without tools and in a single step, opening up unthought of freedom for developers. Even if there is no way of knowing today whether the production of structure-relevant components will be possible in the medium term, a number of initial applications, e.g. in car interiors, are now within reach.

The EDAG Group will continue to keep a close watch on the evolution of additive manufacturing. The target: to develop practicable and valid applications for use in component development and production. Engineering specialists EDAG plan to present a number of bonnet variants using different materials and additive manufacturing methods at this year's IAA in Frankfurt.

"With the futuristic concept of our 'EDAG Light Cocoon', we hope to stimulate the discussion about the future of lightweight construction and automobile production. As an engineering company, we see it as our task to make sure that we are today already working on future technologies and completely new approaches to vehicle development. When it comes down to it, working on concept car projects like the 'EDAG Light Cocoon' enables us to build up additional competencies within our teams, while at the same time also encouraging people to think outside the box and tread new paths in order to achieve the best possible technical solutions," explains Jörg Ohlsen, CEO of EDAG Engineering AG. "The focus of people like us, who develop the cars of tomorrow, must always be on the day after tomorrow."

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