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EDAG Light Cocoon Hints at Future of Lightweight Construction

December 17, 2014

In the auto industry, lightweight is the way to go. Everyone knows about the dramatic weight loss of the 2015 Ford F-150 and it was recently revealed that Audi will also debut a lighter 2016 Q7 SUV. While both are notable cases of auto diets, these are not the prime examples of lightweight construction. As the EDAG Light Cocoon proves, there is lightweight construction and there is lightweight construction.

EDAG is an engineering firm that knows a thing or two about building visionary concepts, and it is bringing its latest masterpiece to the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. This is the EDAG Light Cocoon (shown), which the company previewed recently. EDAG describes the concept as “the ultimate in future lightweight construction,” and for a very good reason: it features a 3D-printed skeleton-like structure that wears lightweight weatherproof fabric as covering.

“We are pursuing the vision of sustainability – as demonstrated by nature: lightweight, efficient, and without any waste,” EDAG head designer Johannes Barckmann said in a statement. “The result: the ‘EDAG Light Cocoon’ presents a stable, branch-like load bearing structure from the 3D printer, which only uses material where it is absolutely necessary.”

According to EDAG, the inspiration for this project was a leaf. The idea was for the vehicle to resemble a leaf, which features a “structure that has a lightweight outer skin stretched over it.” In the photo seen above, backlight technology highlights the concept car’s skeletal structure, which would have been concealed by the weatherproof textile that serves as its outer material.

EDAG used not just any ordinary fabric for this one—it specifically used what is known as “Texapore Softshell,” a unique material sourced from outdoor specialists Jack Wolfskin. What truly makes the concept lightweight is its fabric covering. EDAG chief technical officer Jörg Ohlsen claims that though “extremely strong,” the material is “four times lighter than standard copier paper.” The company said the Jack Wolfskin textile weighs no more than 19 grams per square meter (g/m²).

The EDAG Light Cocoon is truly lightweight. The company noted that it removed materials which were not necessary for special load cases.

While the Light Cocoon is indeed unique, it is not the first of its kind. A few years back, BMW debuted a concept that also had fabric as its outer skin. The Munich automaker’s GINA (Geometry and Functions in ‘N’ Adaptations) Light Visionary Model had a frame made with aluminum and carbon fiber wires and a polyurethane-coated spandex fabric as covering.

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