Automotive Modelling is a perfect combination of Art and Science, a concept sculpted in clay and driven by the power of technology !
Chinmay More, our next pathbreaker, Automotive Clay Modeler at Groupe Renault, transforms sketches and designs into a physical 3D model which is an exact replica of the sketch and is practical enough to be manufactured and mass produced.
Chinmay talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about opting for a career in Automotive Sculpting driven by his interest in styling design, sketching, modelling and digital modelling.
For students, there are no shortcuts in life, and even if they look short, they are not. Excel in whatever you do, even if it means taking the longer route !
Chinmay, your background?
Hello this is Chinmay Ashok More, I am an Automotive Clay Modeler.
I grew up in Pune, in a middle class family. My father is a commission agent in a bank and mother is a beautician. I have an older brother who works as an agent in the liquors and commodity supplies business.
Though my initial career focus was on MBBS, due to my academic score, I couldn’t pursue it. Following the trend, I went for a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering followed by a lateral entry into second year of engineering (Mechanical). I did well in academics and managed to get distinction in Diploma and Engineering.
What did you do for graduation/post-graduation?
For graduation, I chose to go for Mechanical Engineering. I did my post-graduation in a distance program from Welingkar institute of Management in Operations Management.
Though my career in clay modeling was due to a modelling course, engineering and management skills have helped me quite a bit in my career.
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Around the time of my graduation, I was preparing for PSU exams simultaneously, but didn’t have the patience to give my everything for two or more years without any tangible output.
In the meantime, I was also building my sketch and art portfolio to get selected in NID and MIT ID, but I couldn’t make it by a very short margin.
This was almost one year after my engineering when I decided to prepare my portfolio because i was interested in styling design, sketching, modelling and digital modelling.
Since my portfolio was strong, MIT ID contacted me and informed me that they were starting a new course in Automotive Clay Sculpting, and they could arrange an entrance exam for me. Out of hundreds of applications, five students were selected. Being a part of such an out of the box course was a very proud moment for me, but my struggles increased many times because clay modelling is not easy and getting a job in it is very rare.
Prof. Donshong Koren, our faculty at MIT ID, was one of my mentors.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path
After 1.5 years of training in Auto Clay Modelling, I managed to get an internship in Delhi, at Desmania Designs, and my professional career started.
Even before my Desmania internship, I had an opportunity to work at the Royal Enfield workshop as a mechanic, which was a very good exposure because I was learning to deal with practical applications of my engineering knowledge.
In my first Design internship at Desmania I learnt the finishing skills, thermoforming, product modelling, FRP mold making and product extraction which helped me in getting selected in my second internship at RENAULT DESIGN INDIA. These two internships shaped me as a modeler that I am today.
To tell you about Prototyping or Modelling, consider a car that is to be made to express the future, like, what will be the features, design, materials, colours, technology etc. But its not only limited to that, my role is to transform all this into a model which is a beautiful replica of the sketch given to me by the designer, and which is practical enough to be manufactured and mass produced.
I learnt new types of rapid prototyping techniques, for example thermoforming, which is the process of making mould from wood and heating a plastic sheet upto melting temperature and using vacuum to force the plastic sheet to take the shape of the mould. To give you example, we would first make a sphere of wood, of appropriate size to replicate a human head and place a semi molten plastic sheet on top of it which is stretched to get the exact shape of that sphere by applying vacuum on it. At the end of this, we will have a hollow shell for a helmet. We follow a similar process for two wheeler mudguards, two wheeler tanks, car quarter panels and many more.
My second internship in Renault was a dream come true because there are very few design studios in India who have this kind of facility and we got chance to work in one of them. In this internship, we worked on the latest Kwid model where our job was to fit and try the new bumper and headlamps on the car.
How did you get your first break?
I got my first break through my internship in Renault. Here I got to work with our Design General Manager (Alain Loney) because I was working on his sketch.
In this internship, I got a chance to present my work to our Design President, Laurens van den Acker. After his visit, my general manager called the two modellers and offered this job.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you faced in your career and how you dealt with them?
One of our main challenges was to develop an advanced clay model of an unmanned racecar. Here, the challenge was unlike anything we did in design school. Since we didn’t have proper tools to do the job, we first created the tools needed for modelling and then started the model.
The second challenge was the constantly changing design. Today it is something and by the end of the day, the design is something else and if that is not working, we need to come back to the previous design and so on.
But the biggest challenge was to finish the model in two months, from scratch, without tools and without help; and it had to be strong enough to withstand six months under Chennai’s hot weather for the final presentation in front of the Vice President of Design, Renault (Laurens van den Acker). Our Design General Manager was Alain Loney.
Where do you work now? Tell us about your role as Clay Modeler
I work in Renault Design India and the following are my duties.
- To understand the sketch and transform the design into a Physical 3D model, by seeking excellence in defining, producing & tuning volumes, for judgement of aesthetics & quality of vehicle design.
- Deliver physical models by respecting the business rules according to the progress of the project, in respect to the time and quality.
- Material selection and integration of material for the betterment of projects.
- Make presentation of the physical mockups and its process to present it to design, management, and various engineering teams.
- To actively and cohesively align with other members in the design team, while delivering mockups.
- Analyzing designs, editing designs, creating material summaries, while working with departments.
- Installing, Operating and maintaining 3D printer at the workshop facility along with maintaining its inventory. Help in maintaining the Annual maintenance records and contacting vendors for quotation.
- Helping the painting team in paint process and paint preparations along with assembly and dis-assembly of mockups, cars.
- Gathering and Maintaining the project related documentation by capturing images and maintaining the planning.
- To understand the sketch and transform them into digital models by respecting the business rules according to the progress of the project, in respect to the time and quality.
- Working with cross functional teams to achieve a common goal such as creative lab, EE systems, engineering, wheel and tire manufacturers.
- Providing innovative ideas for the betterment of the products, services, and the work environment.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
I made a model of F1 RS VISION 2027 for the farewell of our general manager.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
There are no shortcuts, even if they look short, they are not.
Though knowledge by experience is very good, the experiences of knowledgeable persons are the best.
I wish to become a prototyping expert…