Skoda has offered a glimpse into how scale models of its cars are produced.
Ever wondered how a major car manufacturer goes about making scale models of its cars? Well, as someone whose office is littered with over 500 model cars, I certainly have.
The process begins when model manufacturer Abrex receives 3D data direct from Skoda. From there, moulds are made using the data. Unlike the Czech manufacturer's real cars, the models are produced by injecting a zinc alloy into a metal mould, and Skoda is one of very few manufacturers to employ such a method.
"Investing in moulds is very costly," said Jan Mizera, director of Abrex, which has been assembling Skoda models since 2003. "Only a few companies worldwide have decided to take the plunge, and in Europe there are just a handful of us. In the Czech Republic, no one but us makes these models from beginning to end."
Of course, scale models are reduced in size compared to the real thing, but shrinking the cars comes with a unique set of challenges. If the car was a perfectly scaled down copy, it wouldn't share the same appearance of the full-size car, so certain elements of the model are tweaked to help it keep its real-world appearance.
"When we’re designing the model, we have to adjust the data and manually create each surface," said Mizera. "We basically remodel the car from scratch. We do still have the advantage of having something to cling to, so deformation is kept to a minimum."
"This phase is actually very subjective. I often say that we could give the same data to twenty designers and we’d get back twenty completely different models," he added. "Each designer has a slightly different perception of the model."
All-in-all, four separate moulds are used when producing the model cars, with everything else besides the body being produced in plastic.
Ahead of final assembly, the elements of the model are hand painted with the assistance of a copper template which masks individual parts of the car that don't need to be painted or painted differently. Once painting is completed, the metal body is mated to the plastic chassis, interior, and windows by hand to create the finished model.
More information about the process of designing and building scale model Skodas can be found on the manufacturer's Storybook website.