3D printing a supercar, the Citroën GT

One of the best selling and most exciting racing games out there is Gran Turismo 5. And one of the most remarkable cars in that racing game has to be the GT by Citroën. In 2008, Citroën, Polyphony (the makers of the game) and Materialise joined forces and the virtual racecar was turned into a real fully-functional car. Later that year, the five-meter long concept car made its global premiere at the Paris Motor Show. We do a lot of 3D printing work on concept cars but are sadly almost never allowed to talk about it. Luckily, this time, we’ve been given permission to show you how 3D printing was used to create a large portion of this supercar.

Concept cars

The philosophy behind a concept car is pretty simple. It’s about marketing the image of the car manufacturer, trying new design concepts and expressing the design and tendencies of the brand’s future. A concept car is never meant to be a prototype for a future serial car, thus making it unique.

The GT concept

“GT by Citroën shows how the worlds of virtual and real-life motoring can join together to create a truly innovative partnership. To see the GT by Citroën take shape in our game studios and then for real has been a truly unique experience – as our work normally stays in the digital world.” — Kazanori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital Inc and creator of Gran Turismo

The concept car itself is an impressive racing monster, a virtual design transposed to reality with quite irrational proportions. The car remains fully functional with butterfly opening doors and passed top speed tests at about 200km/h on a racetrack.

The architecture was made from a tubular aluminium racing chassis with carbon fiber body parts around. The engine was taken from a competition car with the corresponding harassing sound.

The exterior design emphasizes speed with a very aggressive racing look, while the interior was designed to create an impression that the cabin is literally on fire.  For the GT concept, most of the interior was 3D printed.

The cabin interior of the car (sketch)

The cabin interior of the car (computer rendering)

The cabin interior of the car (computer rendering)

3D printing

Car manufacturers have been using us to 3D print parts for concept cars for years. Interior parts, bumpers, dashboards and many other parts are 3D printed. The rest of the car is completely made by hand.

For the GT by Citroën, Materialise realized most of the cabin interior parts. The shapes look highly stylized and futuristic, which perfectly matches with a virtual car design. Citroën requested originally to have a massive metal interior effect, which would be left partially unfinished. The impression had to be given that the whole interior was milled out one solid block of metal with sharp cutting edges.

Below you can see a screenshot from Magics showing the frame of the car with the 3D printed parts highlighted in purple, blue, red and green.

The parts for the GT by Citroën were printed on a Mammoth stereolithography machine, the world’s largest 3D printer, capable of printing designs of 2 meters or more in length.

Construction of the dashboard on a Materialise Mammoth stereolithography machine

Construction of the dashboard on a Materialise Mammoth stereolithography machine

“Materialise was involved at a very early design stage, which made it possible to push the technology to the limits of feasibility. No more, no less , this is the full spirit of a successful concept car.” — Jonathan Cornelus, Account Manager AMS – Materialise.

The final result

If you know that Citroën mainly focuses on making family cars, I think they did a remarkable thing and amazed us by bringing the GT to life. The images below are actual photographs!










On the streets

In 2009, they took the GT out for a drive on the streets of London. As you probably would expect, heads turn and cameras appear.


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