Learn how the revolutionary technology of 3D printing
was used to recreate the most famous car in the world
DB5 3D Printing
16th November 2012
Innovative 3D printing technology from Augsburg-based
voxeljet is on display in the newest James Bond film Skyfall – more
specifically in the scene when James Bond's car explodes in flames.
A total of three Aston Martin DB5 models were created at the
company's service centre. The models double for the now priceless
original vehicle from the 1960s in the film's action scenes.
Action scenes in expensive film productions such as a James
Bond film must look as realistic as possible. For the model builders
working behind the scenes, the high demands of film makers translate
into more requirements and detail work. Therefore companies such
as Propshop Modelmakers Ltd., which specialises in the production
of film props, are always on the look-out for trend-setting manufacturing
The fact that the British company selected the 3D printing
technology of a German provider is a special honour for the
Augsburg company. "Of course only state-of-the-art technology
was used for the new James Bond film Skyfall. To be considered
a benchmark by the model builders from the Pinewood Studios
is evidence of the performance and position of our 3D printing
system in terms of global ranking," says voxeljet CEO
Dr. Ingo Ederer.
voxeljet is considered a pioneer in the area of 3D printing.
At its service centre, which is the largest in Europe, the Augsburg-based
company has specialised in the on-demand production of sand moulds
for metal casting, as well as plastic moulds and 3D functional
moulds. Small-batch and prototype manufacturers in a variety
of branches of European industry appreciate the fast and cost-effective
manufacture of their casting moulds and 3D models based on CAD
data. At the same time, the internationally active company has
also made a name for itself as a manufacturer of high-resolution
3D printing systems. voxeljet moulds are very precise and rich
in detail – properties that also impressed the British
"Propshop commissioned us to build three plastic models
of the Aston Martin DB5. We could have easily printed the legendary
sports car in one piece at a scale of 1:3 using our high-end
VX4000 printer, which can build moulds and models in dimensions
of up to eight cubic metres. But the British model builders were
pursuing a different approach. To ensure that the Aston Martin
was as true to detail as possible, and for the purpose of integrating
numerous functions into the film models, they decided on an assembly
consisting of a total of 18 individual components. The entire
body is based on a steel frame, almost identical to how vehicles
were assembled in the past," says Ederer.
voxeljet started the printing process once the CAD data for
all components were available. The models are produced with the
layer-wise application of particle material that is glued together
with a binding agent. The plastic material PMMA is used for this
purpose; it is ideally suited for precisely these types of tasks.
The individual components that are made of PMMA feature outstanding
attention to detail, but are also very stable and resilient,
which means that they are well suited for mechanical post-processing.
Following the unpacking process, which involves the removal
of unbound material from the finished components, voxeljet's
service centre looked very much like a body shop. A total of
54 individual parts for the three vehicle models, including mudguards,
doors, bonnets, roofs and more, now had to be safely packaged
and transported to Pinewood Studios near London.
The model builders at Propshop then meticulously assembled and
finished the components, painted them in the original colour
and added chrome applications along with realistic-looking bullet
holes. The special effects that can be seen in Skyfall confirm
the perfection in execution of this work. After the finishing
process, it is impossible to distinguish the Aston Martin models
made with the voxeljet printer from the original, even in the
close-up shots. And: The priceless Aston Martin DB5, which was
already used in the first James Bond film exactly 50 years ago,
remains unscathed, while one of the elaborately and meticulously
constructed models explodes in flames in
the film. An expensive crash, since one of the three models was
auctioned off by Christie's for almost USD 100,000.
For voxeljet, participating in a James Bond production was of
course anything but a normal contract, and it also opened up
an entirely new industry for the company: "In addition to
the automotive industry, foundries, designers and artists, the
film industry represents an entirely new customer base for voxeljet.
3D printing is on the cusp of a great future in the film industry.
The technology offers fantastic opportunities, since it is usually
much faster, more precise and more economical than classic model
construction," says Ederer.