Printing the Jaguar F-type Concept
In the September 2020 issue, I talked about the diecast scale models that Maisto produced of my designs, including the XJ220 and XK 180. The company also got close to producing a model of the F-type Concept in the early 2000s, even coming to Jaguar’s studio to measure the car. But, for various reasons, permission was denied before one could be produced. Not long after, the entire F-type Concept project was cancelled so there has never been a scale model. Consequently, I decided to make, or rather print, my own, having recently bought a 3D printer for some of my artwork.
During lockdown in March and April, I – like many others, including a team at Jaguar Land Rover – was enlisted to produce some much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS, which I was very happy to do. As well as helping a worthy cause it also gave
me more knowledge and confidence in 3D printing, so when the medical products were no longer required I thought I’d have a go at printing the F-type Concept. I don’t decorate the house with much of my stuff, but I do have 1:18-scale models of the XJ220 and XK 180 in my office, and have always wanted an F-type Concept to sit alongside.
Although not easy, I had a head start because the Jaguar CAD (computer-aided design) team gave me the actual surface data of the car when I was still there, meaning the exterior of my model is accurate. However, it took a lot of work to complete because the interior and wheels had to be remodeled in CAD, as did many other areas that were missing.
I HAVE 1:18-SCALE MODELS OF THE XJ220 AND XK 180 IN MY OFFICE, AND HAVE ALWAYS WANTED AN F-TYPE CONCEPT TO SIT ALONGSIDE
I then printed the model in polylactic acid; a derivative of sugar cane, it gives a shiny finish that is perfect for scale models. Each layer is a mere 0.12mm thick and the model was printed in two longitudinal sections (that took 12 and 24 hours to Printing the F-type Concept print, respectively) before being joined together. I then added the wheels, tyres, screen and seats separately.
Including the CAD work and prototypes, it has taken me several months to complete and has been fulfilling to revisit the design 20 years on. I’ve always been proud of the car and the fact that others liked it, as proven by the 50,000 orders that were taken by dealers following its debut at the 2000 Detroit Show. I had no brief and could do what I thought was right and so designed a car for me. Two decades on and all its surfaces still have movement, acceleration and sculpture, attributes that distinguished Sir William Lyons’ and Malcolm Sayer’s cars from the rest.
I probably wouldn’t have done it without lockdown, but it’s been a wonderful nostalgic trip, resulting in an F-type Concept of my own.
Keith Helfet was a Jaguar designer between 1978 and 2002. His most famous creations are the XJ41, XJ220, XK 180 and F-type concept, plus the design themes for the XK8. He currently runs his own design company