development today is done in virtual 3D environments on powerful computer
workstations. Wickham prefers software from AliasWavefront which has
also been used to create the special effects in Star Wars and Lord
of the Rings.
The XST would
have to follow a single ground rule. Its design would have to be based
on the currently produced Isuzu Axiom SUV, which originated as the ZXS
concept at the 2000 Tokyo Auto Show.
out as paper sketches, Wickham was able to quickly move his ideas for
the XST from traditional two dimensional media to a state of the art virtual
3D environment within a computer graphics workstation. Nearly all new
car design today starts out on these powerful and expensive platforms
where ideas can be tested and refined long before they reach production.
To take full
advantage of these work stations, today's designers also rely heavily
on 'object oriented design' principles to speed things along and cut down
on research and development costs. Object oriented design enables designers
to plug in data about existing components into their new designs so they
don't have to start from scratch building components that might exist
somewhere else within the company's truck lineup. In this case, Wickham
simply grabbed the existing digital design 'objects' he needed from the
Axiom SUV, created a few years earlier, up to the C-pillar where the rear
passenger doors end. He then combined them with brand new pickup truck
design elements to form the XST's bed and other unique features behind
the C-pillar. In Wickham's words, "it's about minimizing the hand
work involved on a vehicle because it's a one-off." It's also testimony
as to how today's concepts make the leap to production so quickly.
tool of choice for doing all of this design work comes from leading 3D
software maker AliasWavefront. Among other things, AliasWavefront's software
is also used to create the special effects for movies like Lord of the
Rings and Star Wars.
XST's initial design work was completed on the workstation, Isuzu brought
Italdesign California (IDC) into the picture. IDC is a subsidiary of Italy's
well known Italdesign Guigiaro Studio, famous for creating stunning concept
and production cars since the late 1960s.
All of the
digital data for the XST was e-mailed to IDC and a production Axiom SUV
given to their studio. Their small army of crafters would be tasked with
turning virtual design in physical reality.
California rendered Wickham's 3D designs into sheetmetal and fiberglass
to create the Axiom XST concept for Detroit.
IDC took the Axiom and carefully removed its rear end from the C-pillars
back. Next, using Wickham's first set of 3D specs, a bed was milled in
foam and grafted onto the truncated Axiom to judge its looks and fit.
It would take three more design and milling sessions before Wickham gave
his thumbs up on the final bed and rear of the XST.
special purpose tooling to produce the XST's bed and rear sections in
fiberglass. This fiberglass was molded over steel reinforcement and then
mated to the Axiom. The C-pillar was custom built entirely out of sheetmetal.