A collaborative approach with proprietary technology creates bespoke textures never before possible

A brilliant design for a textured surface sits on a designer’s computer screen. All who pass by remark on the originality of her concept. But how can it be manufactured?

Standex Engraving Mold-Tech has the answer

For the first time, any design inspiration can now be reproduced on soft trim tooling. Never before have complex, geometric and bespoke natural patterns been possible on soft trim, but now with perfect texture-mapping technology combined with laser engraving, a spark of an idea can become a reality.

Architexture, the design consultancy of Standex Engraving Mold-Tech, works with design teams to capture those dreams and interpret how the vision for their product can be expressed through surface textures. Bespoke textures are designed for beauty and functionalities such as scratch and mar, reflectivity, aero, hydrodynamics, haptic and touch sensations, grip and acoustics.

The three global Architexture studios – Manchester, England; Suzhou, China; and Detroit, Michigan, USA – lead the industry in creative innovation with development of design and prototype models, supported by the global reach and advanced technology of Standex Engraving Mold-Tech. But what truly sets Architexture apart are its client relationships and advanced design processes.

Architexture can bring a client’s design to reality and prepare it for real-world production with Standex’s advanced manufacturing technologies.

Mike Miller, lead designer at the Manchester studio, explains: “Architexture gives the design community and the OEM the ability to create textures that are specific to the genre of their vehicles. We also help communicate the design intent and prowess behind those organisations and can reinforce an existing or an emerging brand strategy.”

Surface texture has to perform many roles, but most importantly, it has to be realistic, which is why the studios use a process called Design, Verify and Produce. “Our design process is unique,” Miller continues. “We receive a brief from a client and develop a series of textures for review. Because our diverse team works together on the ideations, we can produce textures very rapidly and present the client with dozens and occasionally hundreds of patterns to review. The client then selects two or three to be further developed. These choices undergo our fit-to-form process which digitally analyses a texture to test compatibility with any 3D shape.”

Using this breakthrough technology, any pattern can be applied to the most complex parts, including soft trim, with textures that are rendered fit-to-form. This technology is the first of its kind and eliminates any distortion or seamlines. Bespoke textures can morph or blend with exact precision, including in geometric and linear designs. Once approved, this fit-to-form technology allows clay or Ren board to be wrapped in a custom texture.

“Our proprietary Rapid Texture Prototyping process uses an ultra-high resolution 3D printer that produces a 2m by 1.2m sheet of texture, a capability that only we have,” explains Miller.

Laser Engraving

The ultra-high resolution 3D printer allows for complex surfaces to be covered in different colours

Through the Verify stage, designers gain the confidence to be creative with production-ready prototypes. “The texture is directly applied to the clients’ model via our exclusive Model Tech® technology, allowing for complex surfaces to be perfectly enveloped in any colour and gloss desired,” says Miller. “These mock-ups are suitable for senior design and management reviews, advertising shoots, and market testing.”

The last step, Produce, prepares a texture for production. The designs are carefully verified for production and the texture’s data is sent to the Standex Engraving Mold-Tech engineering team to be transferred to production tooling. Whether laser engraving, chemically etching, or using a hybrid of these processes, Standex Engraving Mold-Tech is prepared to bring the visions of its clients to life.

“This is not just a dry supplier-type relationship, but one that is relational and interactive,” Mike Miller concludes. “We work best when our designers work directly with our clients’ designers. And our work is not from the old moiré school of pattern design: it is a remarkable new world of advanced 3D textures that will enhance a new generation of vehicles. Textures are a new design language for automotive interiors, and maybe, someday for exteriors as well. We stand on the edge of that new frontier, ready to work with OEMs and suppliers to develop the vehicles of the future.”

About Architexture:

With facilities in 46 locations in 23 countries, Standex Engraving Mold-Tech and its Architexture design consultancy serve OEMs and suppliers around the world with collaborative, creative design, an innovative and interactive development process, and unparalleled engineering and manufacturing expertise. For more information, please visit www.architexture.design