Daihatsu shows us the future of customisation

The oldest Japanese car company, Daihatsu, has truly embraced the modern world with the latest announcement. Buyers of the newly re-launche...

The oldest Japanese car company, Daihatsu, has truly embraced the modern world with the latest announcement. Buyers of the newly re-launched Daihatsu Copen will be able to literally design the ‘skin’ of their car, allowing for limitless expressions of individual style.

Daihatsu probably is not the first car company that you would think of when it comes to excitement or customisation, but perhaps they are aware of this and would like to inject a little excitement into their brand. The new MKII Daihatsu Copen may well signal the start of new concept in customisation and some say fun. It is, on first sight, a rather diminutive sports car built with a 660cc engine to fit into the Japanese ‘kei’ car regulations, but it has a monocoque chassis which is specifically designed to allow for very high level of customisation, especially on the 13 separate resin body panels.

The first-generation Copen and its removable body panels
Of course with body panels made from resin, the design was just calling out for customisation, and that is exactly what Daihatsu and its friends over at the American company, Stratasys, will be providing for willing buyers. Making use of the interchangeable body panels, designers Kota Nezu and Junjie Sun have come up with a number of special panels that will accept customer’s design elements and in part allow them to ‘re-skin’ their cars using new panels that have come out of a 3D printer.


In recent years, 3D printing technology has become a viable prototyping and specialist manufacturing process within the automotive industry. So the step towards making this process available to the wider general public is a logical progression. Daihatsu calls this "The Effects Skin" customisation process using DDM (Direct Digital Manufacturing) under their wider "Dress-Formation" project.

The new skins will be made from a high UV stability ASA thermoplastic material that matches the colour of the existing panel, but for now the only panels that are available for re-skinning are the front and rear bumper surrounds, and the badge surrounds, although there will be 12 designs of these and 10 colour variations.


Oh and by the way, if you are wondering, Copen means “Future Included”.

images: steeringnews.com, autoexpress.com, gizmag.com, 

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