Bugatti has been synonymous with innovative, exceptional and timeless automotive design for over 110 years. Design development is a key skill for the French luxury brand and a difficult and very complex task at the same time. To meet this challenge in the age of digital transformation, Bugatti has been working intensively on virtual design processes with photo-realistic 3D animations since 2016. In the meantime, the design team gathered around Achim Anscheidt has digitized more 90% of the creative model making process and thus established a paradigm shift in design research.
As CAD and visualization manager, Ahmet Daggün is responsible for the digital design processes of new models. The designer has been modeling cars since the age of 13. A Bugatti EB110 poster was already hanging in his nursery and inspired his early designs. After studying automotive engineering in Hamburg, Daggün joined Bugatti in 2012 as a Surface Designer. "I've always wanted to understand how the technical elements work – and optimize them as much as possible," says Daggün. Besides the technical components, this also encompasses the creative processes related to the design. He specialized in this area.
Half of the Bugatti Chiron's design took place digitally and in the case of the hypersportive Divo, that proportion even reached 90%. "With the Divo, we have demonstrated for the first time our ability to develop in a few months, from a breathtaking shape and through the digital design process, exceptional vehicles in the prototype phase", explains Daggün. This would not have been possible in such a short time with classic clay models. This virtual procedure saves time of about 50% and costs reduction of about 25%. The decisive factor for this technological breakthrough has essentially been the significant improvement in VR data glasses, which allows the designer to have a permanently hyperrealistic view of virtual models.
Bugatti hyper sports cars are all digitally composed
“Taking inspiration from this process, we have decided to compose all vehicles digitally from now on. Today, we are the leading manufacturer to lead this kind of development, and not just in the hypersport segment, ”explains Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. “Following a long tradition spanning over 110 years, we have always proven at Bugatti that we are on the right track with new and daring ideas. As the maker of the world's most remarkable vehicles, we are kind of obligated to constantly develop new ideas, in terms of technology and design. We owe it to our tradition and to our customers. "
In the analogue period, creating a new vehicle started with making sketches and then making clay models at a scale of 1: 4. This allowed specialists in various fields to assess form and formulate requests for changes at an early stage of development. Specialists worked for months on more than ten design models, changing the shades or lines of them. Next, the designers created a 1: 1 scale clay model. This was again evaluated by several experts from different departments, details were changed until the final design was finally agreed. Thanks to virtual reality and 3D models, Bugatti is now developing its hypersports vehicles much faster and more precisely. With the conventional process, the development of the Divo would have taken at least a year, but thanks to the hyper-realistic 3D development, the development time is cut by more than half.
It starts with a sketch by a creative like chief designer Achim Anscheidt. Design computer specialists digitize this design and virtually develop the shape onscreen using special computers with enormous computing power. With sketch models, they first work roughly on the studies in order to obtain the first rudimentary proportions. “We then model the curves more finely, adjust the surfaces and balance the play of light and shadow. Once ready, we formulate all of the digital data into a VR presentation that surprisingly approximates real vision perception, ”says Ahmet Daggün.
Digital models are created faster and more precisely
Bugatti specialists can evaluate the vehicles, which already correspond 90% to subsequent production status, from any angle by means of VR screens or glasses with a great depth effect. Experts implement change requests within a day, regardless of the country in which the relevant decision-makers are located, such as Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann or Design Director Achim Anscheidt. In the analog period, it took up to two weeks. This gives designers and engineers more freedom and time to further refine the model under consideration.
As soon as the coordinated digital model is created, Bugatti machines the physical data control model out of rigid foam. Designers and developers examine proportions from 30 to 40 meters away to better understand shapes and proportions. "It is always important to have a physical model that you can touch because Bugatti vehicles offer special importance to emotion and we really want to feel it," explains Achim Anscheidt. All change requests are manually viewed by the designers for correction on the considered model and transferred to the digital model, so that a show car or pre-production vehicle is created directly from the final data set. “This digital process saves us at least five months of development time, while increasing tuning loops and therefore quality. We detect every small irregularity beforehand and smooth it out. This made it possible to create the Bugatti Divo in just six months instead of twelve ”, explains Achim Anscheidt.
All Bugatti designers involved are experts in the fields of computer generated imagery (IGO) and image synthesis. It is of the utmost importance to have a very good visual understanding of the 3D animations, volume, shapes and tension curves of the vehicle. "They are absolute specialists, without whom this process would not be possible", explains Achim Anscheidt.
Digital 3D technology has not finished fundamentally transforming the process of designing and building automobiles. Bugatti is one of the most significant drivers of innovation in this area. "We are thus honoring the will of the founder of the company, Ettore Bugatti, who once said:" Perfection is not of this world. But we are doing everything in our power to get as close as possible to it, ”adds Stephan Winkelmann.