In the previous two episodes of Inside the Factory we explored the Foundry and Mechanical Machining Department, two cornerstones of the Ferrari production process where aluminium and steel are smelted, tempered and reworked into intricate performance components.
Located within the Centro Stile design centre, the Modelleria is where mathematical designers, modellers and colour and trim specialists work together on a fundamental stage in the construction of a new Prancing Horse. Using 3D mathematical designs created from 2D drawings and sketches, a full-size physical model of the car is built, made from clay.
It’s a rigorous, delicate process, with experienced sculpting modellers working within tight timing schedules to reach a result that corresponds with the hypotheses formed through the original sketches and the 3D digital modelling process.
Take an exclusive look at a Ferrari coming to life in the Modelleria
A single cycle, from sketch to finished car takes seven weeks, however there’s an average of at least two development cycles using clay modelling, with the option of redefining individual parts in line with the various engineering phases.
The first stage involves building a frame from metal (and sometimes wood components) on which the clay is applied and worked. What follows is a constant dialogue between modellers and designers as the car assumes its near definitive shape through a series of successive phases of manual correction, reverse engineering scanning and automatic milling
For the construction of individual parts, modern stereolithographic reproduction techniques and dedicated moulds are be used, with ‘hard parts’ being made from a special high density polymer material is more resistant and less likely to respond to temperature in the same way pliable clay does
Once finished, the clay is cleaned and a thin light film is applied to the body sections, before being placed under LED lights. This process shows the ‘highlights’ – how light is reflected across the body – and is an integral part of the design process. Light must run uniformly across the car, and if it doesn’t the film is removed and the team adjust the clay by hand until it does. A final scan is then made to produce the A Class data from which the production model will be based.
It’s artisan work and proof that no matter how good the technology gets, hands, eyes and human judgement remain the most valued assets at Ferrari’s factory in the 21st Century.