Bent Laminate Toy Car

Respecting Materials

I was tasked with using the bent lamination process to create a toy car. The car had to have both visual appeal and be able to successfully navigate to the bottom of a ramp.


The car uses five laminted pieces with three different curves. The lenticular top is a single laminate cut in half and then reattached at an angle to itself. The structural connections and axle carriers are walnut blocks cut to match the curves of the laminations and then glued into place. The wheels are lathe turned walnut, friction fit onto a 5/16" dowel which functions as the axle. For final assembly the three sub-assemblies are pinned together by a tension fit dowel that also provides a pivot point for the front wheels.


I factored the variation and warping possible in the laminations into my design and implemented systems that would compensate for imperfections. The three wheeled footprint and thin wheels reduce surface friction which in turn reduces the impact of their orientation on the path of the car. The front wheels are mounted on a pivoting bar so that their angle can be changed to straighten out the tracking. The front wheels also have negative camber and negative toe-in which increases the car's stability and helps compensate for misalignment.


In designing the car I wanted to use shapes that would bring out the remarkable strength to weight ratio of bent laminations. I chose to use fairly delicate forks for the rear wheel to take advantage of the laminate's springback and visually dissolve the components into the background. I also chose to create a three-dimensional form for a "roll cage" to exhibit the capabilities that exist even with two-dimensional curves. Above all I used forms that would create distinct flows for the eye to follow.

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