Jan 11, 2016 | By Kira

For the past few decades, Buick has earned itself a solid, if not completely desirable, reputation within the consumer auto market. Buicks are respectable, dependable, and luxuriously comfortable, to be sure (some have described the experience as “driving a living room”)—but you’d be hard-pressed to define the brand as ‘modern’, ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘fun’. For better or for worse, Buicks have come to be seen as an ‘old people’s car’, but that’s an image the American company seems to want to shed once and for all. And what better way to shake off your dinosaur image than to incorporate some of the hottest new technologies, including sleek, 3D printed details?

At a special conference held the day before the North American International Auto Show officially took off in Detroit, Buick unveiled it’s newest and most attention-grabbing concept car yet: the Avista, a 2+2 coupe that borrows from the company’s heritage of elegance, while driving it determinately towards the bright and gleaming future.

The concept car takes the shape of a grand tourer, boasting a 400-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-6 engine driving the rear wheels, and a driver-focused cockpit offering Buick’s signature comfort plus a modern, connected ‘centre of control.’

Indeed, the cockpit and entire interior of the car include some pretty luxurious, high-tech features and technical surfaces that you wouldn’t expect to find in your Grandad’s ride. These include a future vision of Buick’s IntlliLink with touchscreen controls on a widescreen instrument panel display, and a touchscreen center console that extends to the rear seating area, ensuring that even backseat passengers will be able to control their level of comfort.

Of greatest interest to us, of course, is Buick’s decision to incorporate 3D printed trimming on the doors and seats. While many auto manufacturers, such as Ford, have begun to use 3D printing at the prototyping stage, or have announced plans to incorporate metal 3D printed parts into production cars in the near future, Buick went right to it by putting 3D printed parts right where drivers can see, touch, and appreciate them.

“A Superior Blue foundation color echoes the exterior and is complemented with Mist Gray leather seating inserts, console trim and door trim,” said the company in a product statement. “Exposed carbon fiber and aluminum accents throughout reinforce the precision of the performance-oriented driving experience.”

As far as the Avista’s exterior, Buick’s designers took inspiration directly from the idea of constant movement and forward motion, and even looked to the relentless yet stirring patterns of waves receding at the beach’s edge. The entire vehicle is defined by uninterrupted body lines stretching from front to rear, and the absence of conventional B-pillars between the doors and rear side windows “enhance the flowing profile.”

Taking the themes of movement and three-dimensionality (as with the 3D printed parts) to another level, Buick replaced its signature wing-shaped lighting with ‘soft curtain’ elements that create illuminated halos around the lamps’ edges, suggesting a kind of 3D sculpture in mid-air. The Avista’s grille also features Buick’s new winged tri-shield insignia set against a 3D mesh background.

Additional features include:

  • A 110.7-inch wheelbase and 63-inch front/62.9-inch rear tracks for sporty proportions and an aggressive stance
  • 20” aluminum wheels with color-toned accents to match the car’s Dark Sapphire Jewel exterior
  • Front fender vents with chrome accents evolve Buick’s signature fender ports
  • Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and Stop/Start technology
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Twin exhaust outlets
  • New electronic precision shift technology
  • QuietTuning and air-quality control, including advanced noise cancellation technology, ionic air purifiers and aromatherapy

“The Avista embodies the dynamic soul of Buick,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick Sales, Service and Marketing. “It is a modern expression of the brand’s heritage of sophisticated performance, communicated with beautiful elegance.”

“There is elegant simplicity in the Avista’s surfaces, which speak to the purity of the car’s performance, and a timeless beauty that’s a hallmark of Buick design,” said Bryan Nesbitt, executive director Global Buick Design. “It was designed to capture the spirit of the perfect drive.”

Though still just a concept at this stage, the Avista has been getting rave reviews at the Detroit Auto Show, and it clearly represents Buick’s desire to shed its ‘dinosaur image’ and make itself relevant and exciting once again for an entirely new generation of consumers—ones who value comfort and reliability as much as they do cutting-edge technologies, sleek design, and powerful performance.

Additionally, features from previous concept cars by Buick actually ended up being incorporated into their final production cars. For example, the Avenir concept sedan form last year directly inspired the design of the 2017 LaCrosse, which goes on sale this summer. If history is to repeat itself, that could mean 3D printed car details and some of the Avista’s other exciting concept features could find their way into showrooms and our very own garage’s sooner than we think.

And when that day comes, you can be sure there will be more than a few youngsters rushing to be first in line.




Posted in 3D Printing Application



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