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BMW GINA Light Visionary Model - Flexible outer skin

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BMW GINA Light Visionary Model
Flexible outer skin
Innovative body structure
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An innovation breaks new ground: car with a flexible outer skin.
The innovation of a flexible outer skin breaks new ground in automotive engineering. This revolutionary solution opens up new design, production and functionality potential. It has a major impact on the interaction between driver and car and enhances it by offering a variety of entirely new options. Some elements of the substructure are moveable. The driver can move them by means of electro and electro-hydraulic controls. This will also change the shape of the outer skin, which can thus be adapted to suit the current situation, the driver’s requirements and can also enhance the car’s functional range.
The most striking example of this is the headlight design. In normal position, when the headlights are not active, i.e. when there is no necessity to illuminate the road, they are hidden under the special fabric cover. As soon as the driver turns on the lights, the contour of the front end changes. Activated by the metal structure that lies beneath it, the previously closed fabric cover opens to the right and left of the BMW kidney grille and reveals the BMW double head-lights. The rear and the rocker panels of the GINA Visionary Model can also adapt both the shape and function to the driving situation in hand. Both can change the shape of their outer skin to meet the driver’s requirement for particularly dynamic motoring. This concept also takes into account a potential interaction with aerodynamic requirements. The design of the rear element allows for automatic lifting of the rear spoiler when a certain speed is reached, thus creating extra downforce on the rear axle at higher speeds. Due to the fact that the entire rear end, including the spoiler, is covered by a single sheet of material that reaches as far as the rear compartment of the interior, the homogeneous shape of the car’s rear will not be affected by changes to the spoiler position. The mechanical system that moves the elements remains concealed.
The turn indicators and the taillights function without changes to the shape of the outer skin. Their position, however, is only revealed upon activation. The emitted light shines through the translucent fabric cover, which is permeable to light but not transparent.
The rocker panels demonstrate the formal versatility of the GINA Light Visionary Model with an equally impressive performance. The air duct can be optimised if required. A corresponding movement of the metal structure results in an adjustment of the rocker panel contour to allow for better airflow. At the same time, an additional protruding rocker panel line emerges. The aerodynamic optimization and the length of the line can be infinitely adapted to the driving situation at hand.

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Special fabric cover ensures accurate reproduction of material folds.
The fact that the body surface is designed by means of a flexible fabric cover that stretches across a metal substructure means that the materials used must meet exacting requirements. Industrially produced hybrid fabric made from a stabilizing mesh netting support and an outer layer that is both water-repellent and resistant to high and low temperatures is suitable for this application. Another essential material property is a maximum level of dimensional stability.
It must remain dimensionally stable irrespective of the temperature and air humidity it is exposed to even after severe and constant expansion. The dimen-sional stability helps retain the cover’s surface tension for a long period of time. The movement of individual body elements creates accurately reproducible folds in the material. In its choice of material BMW Group Design was inspired by exterior and interior architecture. The expertise of seat pattern designers working for BMW Group Interior Design was successfully applied in order to cut the fabric webbing to size with maximum precision, determine the strategic position of attachment points and stretch the material. As a result, the surfaces are remarkably well balanced and due to the steady tension that is retained between any two clearly defined points, the lines are extremely accurate.

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The special fabric is supported by a metal wire structure. At specific points, the high-strength metal is enhanced by carbon struts with a higher flexibility. They are used predominantly for round, moving contours with a particularly narrow radius.
The use of large fabric areas and the possibility of changing the surface contours by moving individual parts of the metal mesh that lies beneath it create a new relationship between form and function. If additional cooling air is required, the BMW kidney grille at the front of the vehicle can be opened. Because the overall surface of the special fabric covering remains unchanged, the contraction at the front of the vehicle, which is necessary for functional reasons, has to be compensated for by extra tension in other areas. The result is an optically attractive interaction between various body parts that introduces a new dimen-sion to sculptural design. The widening of the kidney grille openings is activated by a movement of the metal mesh in the front area of the side panels. This creates more tension, which becomes visible by the emergence of an additional character line. The development of this new contour tenses the front of the vehicle: the kidney grille opens up.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 12 July 2008 03:09  

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