PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2017.5.1

Packing Greater Appeal into the i-ROAD with a More Convenient Charging Environment!
Checking Out SMILE LOCK with a Phase 1 Test Drive Pilot

Throughout the OPEN ROAD PROJECT to date, keen attention has been directed to the ideas expressed by Test Drive Pilots. Such inspirations draw attention to benefits, improvements and other aspects difficult for those of us on the production side to adequately perceive. As such, they hold potential for ushering unprecedented convenience and satisfaction into the realm of mobility with the i-ROAD. From the very get-go, most all Pilots were immensely upbeat about the project. They commented that the exceptional handling performance inspired them to get their i-ROADs out on the road at every opportunity. At the same time, the majority also raised the issue of “inadequate charging spaces.” Phase 1 Pilot Mr. Tashiro was among those voicing this sentiment. Within the interview we conducted with Mr. Tashiro back in 2015, he cited the frequent struggles encountered in locating parking lots with recharging capabilities. Developed in response to such Pilot reactions was SMILE LOCK – a new concept device aimed at effective sharing of the power outlets available in the city. This stemmed from mulling over the question of to what degree comfort and convenience can be added to urban mobility via the ability to charge the i-ROAD at niche locations in buildings, open spots in front of homes and other idle space. To better explore this area, for this feature we accompanied Mr. Tashiro on inspection visits to SMILE LOCK outfitted Small Space Parking (SSP) facilities set up around Tokyo. Trouble-free charging at spaces readily assessable from the street Trouble-free charging at spaces readily assessable from the street Mr. Tashiro, selected as a Phase 1 Test Drive Pilot through our open recruitment process, reports that he used his assigned i-ROAD to cover the distance between his home in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo and the design office where he serves as owner-director. Our tour began from his office in the Ebisu area. The white i-ROAD unit used in this run struck a handsome appearance against the black wall of that building. Encountering the car again after so long, Mr. Tashiro’s face instinctively lit up in a broad smile: “It’s like meeting up with your own dear child after an extended absence!” Getting out on the road, our first stop was a Small Space Parking facility in a residential district of the Shirokanedai neighborhood selected through public recruitment of i-ROAD parking space owners. This SSP was equipped for power charging, which excited Mr. Tashiro: “During the weeks I served as a Test Drive Pilot, I always felt that being able to park and charge at spots like this would be so much handier!” This also marked his first encounter with SMILE LOCK, and Mr. Tashiro gives the system a big thumbs up: “With the center section turning and flashing, it certainly is easy to see and locate immediately.” He then wasted no time in using his smartphone app to reserve and hold the parking space. “When you need to charge at parking lots in the center of town, it first takes time to get the ticket to enter, followed by the search for available spaces usually deep in the lot. When you’re in a rush, this can prove frustrating and sometimes frantic. It’s a tremendous improvement to have the SSP right in front of a home, where you can pull in right from the street and charge up free of such hassle!” Our next destination was the bustling Shibuya quarter. Being able to park the i-ROAD in an SSP at the very center of the business and shopping district, Mr. Tashiro appeared fully satisfied with the convenience factor: “This is outstanding! I can go to a movie, tour an art gallery or two or otherwise kick back and relax while the car is charging!” He reported that he frequents Tokyu Bunkamura event hall, makes the rounds of galleries in the upscale Shoto district and other areas in and around Shibuya, making this an ideal parking location at such times. Our final stop on the spin was “co-lab” – a shared working space venue in the Daikanyama locale just next to Shibuya. The ground floor of the building houses a parking lot equipped with the SMILE LOCK system, making it possible to charge the i-ROAD right on-site. Relaxing in the second floor cafe during the period needed to fully recharge, we asked Mr. Tashiro for his impressions of trying out SMILE LOCK for the first time. Enhanced appeal for i-ROAD with a solution to the charging challenge Enhanced appeal for i-ROAD with a solution to the charging challenge ―― What are your impressions after using SMILE LOCK? Tashiro: I particularly like the ease of reserving spaces with my smartphone app. The system design is also neat and attractive, conveying the sensation of operating a genuinely futuristic device. ―― You looked surprised by the SMILE LOCK installed in front of a normal residence. Tashiro: I often go to Ginza, Nihonbashi and other districts for work meetings. There are few charging spaces in the residential districts along those routes, which made it a bit tense when driving the i-ROAD to such appointments. That was due to worries about making it back to the office or home when the remaining charge was low. Being able to promptly park and charge in front of residences along the way really contributes to driving with greater peace of mind. ―― Do you feel this feature can resolve the charging worries that bothered you before? Tashiro: When I was operating the i-ROAD as a Test Drive Pilot, I constantly fretted about being able to recharge. Since this is an electric vehicle, the degree of power consumed can vary widely by how you actually step on the accelerator. As a result, I was always peering at the power gauge to try and reduce how much of the charge I used up. If introduction of SMILE LOCK helps increase the availability of charging spaces, it will prove possible to recharge with more ease and frequency. Being able to reserve recharging-equipped spaces near locations of meetings or dining engagements should definitely support increasingly effective use of my time. ―― Has your impression of the i-ROAD changed from your test-driving days? Tashiro: Oh yes. Thanks to improvements in the charging environment, which ranked as my single greatest source of concern before, I really sense that the charisma of the i-ROAD has been elevated. My affection for the car has been rekindled by this reunion, and I’d truly like to own one of these if and when they become available on the market. Enhanced appeal for i-ROAD with a solution to the charging challenge Enhanced appeal for i-ROAD with a solution to the charging challenge ―― What are your impressions after using SMILE LOCK? Tashiro: I particularly like the ease of reserving spaces with my smartphone app. The system design is also neat and attractive, conveying the sensation of operating a genuinely futuristic device. ―― You looked surprised by the SMILE LOCK installed in front of a normal residence. Tashiro: I often go to Ginza, Nihonbashi and other districts for work meetings. There are few charging spaces in the residential districts along those routes, which made it a bit tense when driving the i-ROAD to such appointments. That was due to worries about making it back to the office or home when the remaining charge was low. Being able to promptly park and charge in front of residences along the way really contributes to driving with greater peace of mind. ―― Do you feel this feature can resolve the charging worries that bothered you before? Tashiro: When I was operating the i-ROAD as a Test Drive Pilot, I constantly fretted about being able to recharge. Since this is an electric vehicle, the degree of power consumed can vary widely by how you actually step on the accelerator. As a result, I was always peering at the power gauge to try and reduce how much of the charge I used up. If introduction of SMILE LOCK helps increase the availability of charging spaces, it will prove possible to recharge with more ease and frequency. Being able to reserve recharging-equipped spaces near locations of meetings or dining engagements should definitely support increasingly effective use of my time. ―― Has your impression of the i-ROAD changed from your test-driving days? Tashiro: Oh yes. Thanks to improvements in the charging environment, which ranked as my single greatest source of concern before, I really sense that the charisma of the i-ROAD has been elevated. My affection for the car has been rekindled by this reunion, and I’d truly like to own one of these if and when they become available on the market. Support in motoring around the city with expanded peace of mind Support in motoring around the city with expanded peace of mind With the popularization of cellphones and other high-tech devices, our daily lives continue to become more streamlined. On the negative side, the matter of needing to be concerned about where and when to recharge these gadgets has surfaced. Faced with that, more and more users appear to be carrying along backup batteries in their briefcases or handbags. By its very nature, SMILE LOCK is a device with ample potential to resolve such urban themes. As Mr. Tashiro noted: “My sense is that the changes being enacted in the charging environment have clearly raised the appeal of the i-ROAD.” Acting on this suggestion, rendering it possible to readily charge in more locations is certain to further improve the standing of the i-ROAD as an attractive and handy means of transport. Against this backdrop, expanding the circle of collaboration aimed at making the most of SMILE LOCK is more likely than ever to lead to a higher caliber of comfort and convenience in urban mobility. TEXT BY Yui Sato(contributor)PHOTOGRAPHS BY Tomoyuki Kato 01 May 2017 SMILE LOCK Outlet The recognition-format power outlet engineered for mutual sharing of electricity. http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smile-lock

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PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2016.10.25

Emergence of a “Charging Revolution” Powered by the SMILE LOCK Communication-Friendly Outlet

  The quest for "outlet sharing" through SMILE LOCK The quest for "outlet sharing" through SMILE LOCK For some time now, one of the key components in the OPEN ROAD PROJECT has been prototyping of the "Dokodemo Station" (literally, "Anywhere Station") charging concept. In actual practice, however, this prototype scheme does not involve construction of new charging facilities. Rather, the guiding idea is to effectively enrich the i-ROAD charging environment via active sharing of power outlets around town that remain largely, if not totally, unused. Under the conventional format, however, outlets installed throughout our cities and towns are the property of individual and corporate owners. It goes without saying, furthermore, that such owners are prone to charge for the costs involved in gaining access to those outlets. Taking this situation under consideration, SMILE LOCK was devised with the purpose of bringing greater freedom to this flow of electricity and money. More specifically, with SMILE LOCK outlets themselves equipped with communications functions, this enables the constant recording of specific users, when the outlet was accessed and how much power was charged. The result is a simplified system for customers to pay for only for the amounts of power they actually consume, thereby approaching the realm of genuine outlet sharing. With the expanding use of personal computers, smartphones, tablets and other wireless communication devices in our daily lives, the environment surrounding "charging" has experienced dramatic changes in recent years. One example of this trend may be found in the growing number of cafes and other shops and establishments that are choosing to open their power outlets to general use. The question of how to build and further improve the charging environment is no longer an issue limited to the i-ROAD. SMILE LOCK, in essence, can be said to herald the move to a new stage of evolution not only for electric vehicles, for the domain of "charging" in its entirety. SMILE LOCK The recognition-format power outlet engineered for mutual sharing of electricity http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smile-lock   TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto(contributor)PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida 25 October 2016

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PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2016.7.8

Custom i-ROADs Are the World’s Most Adored Vehicles

The Instant Custom Front Panel Was Installed, It Made the i-ROAD My Own The Instant Custom Front Panel Was Installed, It Made the i-ROAD My Own ―― When your front panels completed after trial and error were finally delivered to your homes, how did you feel? Toshikura: The moment I opened the box, I said "Wow!" because it was so cool, even more so than I had expected. I immediately installed the panel on my i-ROAD, and it looked even cooler. I was so happy I called one of the designers right away. Umezawa: The instant you installed your custom front panel, didn't you feel doubly attached to your i-ROAD? Until I installed mine, I had always been keenly aware that my i-ROAD was on loan to me, which it was in fact. With the panel on, however, I started driving it around saying in my mind, "Look at my i-ROAD!" Toshikura: You're right. So when the time came to return my i-ROAD, my sadness was doubly deep, too. It felt as if "my i-ROAD has been taken away!" even though I returned what I had borrowed. It was tough (laughs). Umezawa: When you think this is the one and only i-ROAD in this whole world, your fondness for it naturally deepens, you know. It makes you want to take much, much better care of it. I got a sense similar to when I named my child. Other People's Designs Are Fine, But Your Own Design Is Even Better Other People's Designs Are Fine, But Your Own Design Is Even Better ―― When you saw each other's front panel in the touring event in May, how did you feel? Toshikura: I thought Ms. Umezawa's panel was awesome for its originality. Honestly, I was a little jealous to see the glamor of the cherry flower design. In fact, I'm thinking secretly that, if I ever get another chance to make a custom front panel, I will theme it on the Japanese sense of seasonality. Umezawa: I myself was envious of your "adult" sensibility of insisting that your front panel fit the i-ROAD design. I only had "flashiness" and "me-ness" in mind right from the beginning, so I was taken aback to see your approach. That such different panels should be made between just the two of us I suppose means as many heads, as many designs. Toshikura: But the thing is that, no matter how great other people's custom font panels are, you think yours is the best. At least I think so (laughs). Umezawa: I think mine is the best, too! But that’s the beauty of customization to your own design. Because that makes your car the one and only in the world, your own that you truly adore! Mr. Toshikura and Ms. Umezawa appeared so proud of their respective front panels while praising one another's. It also seemed as though they were talking about their i-ROADs more as important personal partners than their own vehicles. Custom front panels probably close the distance between i-ROADs and their drivers. TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Tomoyuki Kato / Yuta Nishida ISSUED : 8 July 2016 Article Index Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.2 "Custom i-ROADs Are the World's Most Adored Vehicles" 8 July 2016 Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.1 "After Being Led to Pursue What I Liked, There Was My Own Design" 1 July 2016 Article Index 8 July 2016 Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.2 "Custom i-ROADs Are the World's Most Adored Vehicles" 1 July 2016 Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.1 "After Being Led to Pursue What I Liked, There Was My Own Design"

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PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2016.7.1

After Being Led to Pursue What I Liked, There Was My Own Design

A Showy Design, or a Natural One?Everyone Has His or Her Own Preference. A Showy Design, or a Natural One? Everyone Has His or Her Own Preference. ―― Mr. Toshikura's front panel is characterized by "mechanical" colors and shape, while Ms. Umezawa's simply flowery; they are so different from one another. What were your original ideas? Toshikura: The first time I saw an i-ROAD, I really liked its body design, both futuristic and pop in an anime-like way at the same time. So I decided that, to maintain the vehicle's worldview, my front panel would have to be one that matched the i-ROAD. In considering a design, the first thing that came to mind was outer space. I thought of delicate coloring: the panel would appear black at a glance but blue when lit by light. I also wanted to use a star shape. This idea was the beginning of everything. Umezawa: All I thought right from the beginning was my design would be "me" through and through. The cherry flower motif came to me right away. Cherry blossoms are special to me because I was born in April. I like them so much I named my child with the kanji character for cherry. Since my test piloting happened to fall on April, I wanted to run on an i-ROAD with a front panel decorated with cherry flowers under cherry trees in full bloom. And then I thought I wanted to express not just the vibrant beauty of cherry blossoms but also their ephemerality keenly felt when their petals start to fall. So I came up with a design with paper cutouts. If the "me-ness" was the surface theme, the hidden theme was Cool Japan. Considering the fact that Toyota is a Japanese company, too, I wanted my front panel to be clad in typically Japanese beauty. Designer's Single Remark Turned Ideas Into Designs Designer's Single Remark Turned Ideas Into Designs ―― It was a group of 3D designers registered with Lancers, a cloud sourcing service, that actually gave shape to your ideas. We understand that the manufacturing process was based on direction sheets on which your ideas were written and Skype discussions. Did the designers sometimes offer their opinions? Umezawa: Because 3D printers are not yet widespread, I had no idea what could and couldn't be done. But the designers skillfully matched my design with the technical aspects of the process. So I was comfortable throughout despite the total lack of my 3D printing knowledge. Toshikura: Initially I was worried if I could convey my idea, which was quite abstract, to the designers well. But while we were talking, one of the designers suddenly asked me if I liked Gundam. And it occurred to me, well sure, I liked Gundam. It was all thanks to this single word the designer came up with that the design direction was clearly set. They are true professionals in that they accurately surmise one's feelings and then turn them into words that are easy to share. Umezawa: I was having tremendous trouble deciding how to lay out the cherry flowers and petals, but one of the designers gave me advice, saying that arranging large flowers would give a pop impression and small flowers a delicate impression. So in the end, I arrived at randomly arranging flowers and petals in different sizes. Looking back, I realize that the designers skillfully led me to the end while respecting my own opinions. Toshikura: I find it very interesting that Ms. Umezawa's panel has a family crest along with cherry flowers. At which point did you decide to include the crest? Umezawa: I wrote in my direction sheet without much thought that adding a family crest might be interesting, and the designers agreed, saying, "That would be great!" When I wrote that idea on the direction sheet, I wasn't sure if it would work, but with the designers' encouragement I included the crest. And I do think it really worked! Without the designers' advice, I wouldn't have been as happy with my panel as I am. Continued to Part 2: Custom i-ROADs Are the World's Most Adored Vehicles TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Tomoyuki Kato ISSUED : 1 July 2016 Article Index Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.2 "Custom i-ROADs Are the World's Most Adored Vehicles" 8 July 2016 Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.1 "After Being Led to Pursue What I Liked, There Was My Own Design" 1 July 2016 Article Index 8 July 2016 Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.2 "Custom i-ROADs Are the World's Most Adored Vehicles" 1 July 2016 Interviews with Users of ROAD KITCHEN, Our 3D Printer Service: Vol.1 "After Being Led to Pursue What I Liked, There Was My Own Design"

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PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2016.3.23

What is "SOUND-X"?

The i-ROAD shines as the innovative prototyping of the OPEN ROAD PROJECT – a challenge boldly undertaken to apply combinations of unprecedented services in addressing the theme of "Instilling greater freedom in urban mobility." As the latest aspect of this quest, we have utilized actual i-ROAD road data to design "driving sounds." For the name of the concept, we have chosen "SOUND-X." How then, can actual driving experiences be transformed by tailoring sounds emitted on the road to fit specific scenes and occasions? To check out the details of this trial, please proceed to the link provided. SOUND-X ♪× ( km/h × deg × m/s² ) http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/sound-x   TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto(contributor) 23 March 2016

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PROTOTYPING REPORT | 2016.2.4

The “Manufacturing Town” and New Horizons for the 3D Printer

Toshifumi Yoneyama (Senior Managing Director, Yoneyama Industry Co., Ltd.) At Yoneyama Industry Co., Ltd., a corporation active in the metal processing field in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture, Director Yoneyama launched a new 3D printing operation from 2011. In addition to providing a service outputting 3D data based on data via the Internet, he has spearheaded the development of in-house products as the “YONEYAMA BRAND,” acted as public relations manager to institute use of the “Pepper” humanoid robot in his company’s operations and promote other innovative new undertakings. Yoneyama Industry was founded in 1969. Over the years since, the company has built up a reputation for highly advanced technological prowess in automobile parts, metal press fabrication, welding work and other fields. YONEYAMA BRAND official website: http://yoneyamax.com/ A row of high-pressure hydraulic presses used in metal processing inside the factory. One technician is assigned to handle each unit full-time, effectively overseeing the work of instantly transforming flat metal plate into three-dimensional configurations Surprising New Linkage Between Digital Fabrication and Artisan Skills Surprising New Linkage Between Digital Fabrication and Artisan Skills Among “ROAD KITCHEN” initiatives are “Multiple Holders” – a handy accessory designed for attachment at the i-ROAD driver’s seat to serve as a holder for plastic bottles, sunglasses and various other items. The i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots have personally designated preferred colors and patterns, with the 3D printer output eliminating the need for use of molds. This method also makes it possible to supply plastic items in single piece units, compared to the conventional need for a considerable volume in the initial lot. With this, Yoneyama has realized a “multiple-lot/small-volume production” mode unique to digital fabrication. Engaging in this multiple holder 3D printing, as well as the polishing, dyeing and other finishing work is Yoneyama Industry of Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. For its part, Sanjo City, along with neighboring Tsubame City, are more commonly known under the handle of “Tsubamesanjo” – a district famed for the role of skilled artisans in supporting the traditions of Japanese manufacturing. Masahiko Inada, President of Kabuku Inc. (a company that has contributed as a key partner in the ROAD KITCHEN development work) and interviewed in our previous report , praises the multiple holder finishing work in the most stellar of terms: “The caliber of this overpowering quality is something that can only be realized in Japan.” Inspired by that recommendation, we talked with Senior Managing Director Toshifumi Yoneyama, the key figure behind the promotion of a 3D printing business at Yoneyama Industry, about his company’s efforts to pioneer a new dimension of manufacturing with the use of the 3D printer. ~ Just what prompted you to become involved in the 3D printing and finishing work of multiple holders? Toshifumi Yoneyama: Generally speaking, mention of “3D printers” tends to conjure up images of so-called “dream machines” capable of outputting just about anything as long as you have the right data. In reality, though, it requires considerably advanced technology and know-how to make these printers function up to full potential. The people at Kabuku apparently gave us high marks on that front, and when they contacted us we decided to become part of the project. ~ In what areas do you devote the greatest care and attention in the handling of 3D printers? Yoneyama: Yoneyama Industry is a company with its roots in the metal press fabrication of automobile parts and other products. Our everyday work has long consisted of the relentless quest for precision and quality at the 0.1-millimeter unit, with that background proving to be of substantial value in the newly launched 3D printing business. For example, while such 0.1mm unit accuracy is demanded when attaching or fixing something into place, it is no easy task to eliminate errors of 0.1mm with 3D printers. To succeed in that work requires a firm understanding of the characteristics of the machinery and materials, along with the technology needed to achieve processing and output tailored to the particular product being worked on. In the output of the multiple holders on this occasion, at the point in time that we received the request, our 3D data was formed. Nevertheless, we considered the vibration resistance traits when attached on moving vehicles, inspected the holding sensation in such attached states and took other steps aimed at presenting the client with a more detailed proposal. ~ How exactly did you put the 3D printer to use in the pursuit of precision? Yoneyama: In 2013, we purchased a laser-sintering type model from Electro Optical Systems of Germany for 40 million yen. This machine differs from the more commonly known type, which is used for long and narrow plastic resin lamination, in that it is based on the process of using a laser to sinter (harden) plastic and other powdered materials. At the time we introduced this machine there were only several such units in Japan. That meant we had little choice but to undertake an elaborate and ongoing trial-and-error process to acquire the necessary know-how. Toshifumi Yoneyama (Senior Managing Director, Yoneyama Industry Co., Ltd.) At Yoneyama Industry Co., Ltd., a corporation active in the metal processing field in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture, Director Yoneyama launched a new 3D printing operation from 2011. In addition to providing a service outputting 3D data based on data via the Internet, he has spearheaded the development of in-house products as the “YONEYAMA BRAND,” acted as public relations manager to institute use of the “Pepper” humanoid robot in his company’s operations and promote other innovative new undertakings. Yoneyama Industry was founded in 1969. Over the years since, the company has built up a reputation for highly advanced technological prowess in automobile parts, metal press fabrication, welding work and other fields. YONEYAMA BRAND official website: http://yoneyamax.com/ A row of high-pressure hydraulic presses used in metal processing inside the factory. One technician is assigned to handle each unit full-time, effectively overseeing the work of instantly transforming flat metal plate into three-dimensional configurations Surprising New Linkage Between Digital Fabrication and Artisan Skills Surprising New Linkage Between Digital Fabrication and Artisan Skills Among “ROAD KITCHEN” initiatives are “Multiple Holders” – a handy accessory designed for attachment at the i-ROAD driver’s seat to serve as a holder for plastic bottles, sunglasses and various other items. The i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots have personally designated preferred colors and patterns, with the 3D printer output eliminating the need for use of molds. This method also makes it possible to supply plastic items in single piece units, compared to the conventional need for a considerable volume in the initial lot. With this, Yoneyama has realized a “multiple-lot/small-volume production” mode unique to digital fabrication. Engaging in this multiple holder 3D printing, as well as the polishing, dyeing and other finishing work is Yoneyama Industry of Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. For its part, Sanjo City, along with neighboring Tsubame City, are more commonly known under the handle of “Tsubamesanjo” – a district famed for the role of skilled artisans in supporting the traditions of Japanese manufacturing. Masahiko Inada, President of Kabuku Inc. (a company that has contributed as a key partner in the ROAD KITCHEN development work) and interviewed in our previous report, praises the multiple holder finishing work in the most stellar of terms: “The caliber of this overpowering quality is something that can only be realized in Japan.” Inspired by that recommendation, we talked with Senior Managing Director Toshifumi Yoneyama, the key figure behind the promotion of a 3D printing business at Yoneyama Industry, about his company’s efforts to pioneer a new dimension of manufacturing with the use of the 3D printer. ~ Just what prompted you to become involved in the 3D printing and finishing work of multiple holders? Toshifumi Yoneyama: Generally speaking, mention of “3D printers” tends to conjure up images of so-called “dream machines” capable of outputting just about anything as long as you have the right data. In reality, though, it requires considerably advanced technology and know-how to make these printers function up to full potential. The people at Kabuku apparently gave us high marks on that front, and when they contacted us we decided to become part of the project. ~ In what areas do you devote the greatest care and attention in the handling of 3D printers? Yoneyama: Yoneyama Industry is a company with its roots in the metal press fabrication of automobile parts and other products. Our everyday work has long consisted of the relentless quest for precision and quality at the 0.1-millimeter unit, with that background proving to be of substantial value in the newly launched 3D printing business. For example, while such 0.1mm unit accuracy is demanded when attaching or fixing something into place, it is no easy task to eliminate errors of 0.1mm with 3D printers. To succeed in that work requires a firm understanding of the characteristics of the machinery and materials, along with the technology needed to achieve processing and output tailored to the particular product being worked on. In the output of the multiple holders on this occasion, at the point in time that we received the request, our 3D data was formed. Nevertheless, we considered the vibration resistance traits when attached on moving vehicles, inspected the holding sensation in such attached states and took other steps aimed at presenting the client with a more detailed proposal. ~ How exactly did you put the 3D printer to use in the pursuit of precision? Yoneyama: In 2013, we purchased a laser-sintering type model from Electro Optical Systems of Germany for 40 million yen. This machine differs from the more commonly known type, which is used for long and narrow plastic resin lamination, in that it is based on the process of using a laser to sinter (harden) plastic and other powdered materials. At the time we introduced this machine there were only several such units in Japan. That meant we had little choice but to undertake an elaborate and ongoing trial-and-error process to acquire the necessary know-how. The “FORMIGA P110” laser-sintering 3D printer for plastic (produced by Electro Optical Systems of Germany). The work of spreading out plastic in a finely powdered state for sintering into a hard surface is repeated for each and every layer, in the process of forming a laminated finish. “Japan Quality” for a New Era, Utilizing the Strengths of Local Industry “Japan Quality” for a New Era, Utilizing the Strengths of Local Industry ~ While advancing your work in the metal processing business, what exactly led to your introduction of 3D printers. Yoneyama: That dates back to time when the 3D printer was not a major topic of interest or attention in Japan. Actually, the first big step came with my 2011 visit to “EuroMold,” a major metal processing exhibition staged in Germany. It was there that I first encountered a genuine 3D printer. I was extremely interested to see how high quality iPhone covers and other products could be output on 3D printers. Upon returning to Japan, I wasted no time in having the company procure a resin laminating formation type 3D printer for about 200,000. Unfortunately, the finished quality with that machine was a far cry from what we had envisioned. There were limits on the materials that could be used, the strength was inadequate, the surface quality was rickety at best and so forth and so on. Clearly, the products output on that printer were hardly at a level capable of being sold on the market. That, I must say, was a tremendous source of frustration and disappointment. After that, I was convinced that we needed to introduce a full-fledged 3D printer featuring the caliber and capacity to turn out finished products. That led to our purchase of the laser-sintering type model. But even so, with the multiple holders produced for this project, we added yet another stage of polishing after the actual output. When all is said and done, that extra work was the key to realizing such a smooth surface and lustrous color development in the finish. ~ It would appear that with even with use of 3D printers, the need exists for the knowledge of how to blend artisan skills that are such a distinguishing trait of local industry in Sanjo City with other processing methods and abilities. Yoneyama: That’s correct. With metal presses and other conventional fabricating machines, there is a natural need for adjustments to fit the specific installation sites, the quality of the materials being used and other parameters. This is also true of 3D printers, with our grasp of powder temperature, the volumes of waste heat and other machine characteristics expanding as we continue the use. We often hear talk of how, as long as you have 3D data, the same products can be output anywhere in the world. I would point out, however, that to achieve and maintain production at that level it is imperative to have people on the job with advanced skills and knowledge. It is certainly no exaggeration, therefore, to say that the final quality will vary widely by the technology and backgrounds of the staffers who actually handle 3D printers. This is particularly true in Japan, where high quality is virtually taken for granted. In other words, there is no way to deceive the customer. With the use of laser-sintering models as well, simply outputting as-is on a 3D printer will result in a rough surface finish. That, in turn, will lead to significant differences, both in appearance and touch, from the plastic wares processed on existing injection-molding type machines. Taking that to heart, in approaching the fabrication of these multiple holders as well, we proposed the plan of requesting local polishing artisans to perform the final surface buffing work. ~ The merging of such 3D printers with traditional artisan skills appears to truly be the caliber of know-how available only in such a “Manufacturing Town.” Yoneyama: That may very well be true. Nevertheless, we faced a dilemma related to the question of why, despite being able to readily achieve a smooth finish on plastic products with injection molding, we needed to go to all the trouble of going on to polish versions produced on 3D printers. We understood, however, that the polishing phase leads to major improvements in the color development. Directly dyeing products output on 3D printers in that state would result in the stain solution accumulating in the fine bumps on the surface, generating an overall blurred impression. In contrast to that, dyeing after surface polishing is the key to clear and bright coloring in the finished version. In fact, this color development was achieved at a caliber that proved quite surprising to everyone involved with the 3D printer project. The 3D printing lab: One worker is stationed in air-controlled space to perform the task of removing excess powder from the output products. Under this system, data is transmitted to the 3D printer from a CAD operator on a separate floor. The New Challenge of Passing on “Manufacturing Town” Traditions to the Next Generation The New Challenge of Passing on “Manufacturing Town” Traditions to the Next Generation ~ Considering that so much time and effort is involved, what are the real merits of using 3D printers? Yoneyama: Basically, it boils down to eliminating the need for molds. Under the conventional manufacturing method, it is necessary to first commit the time and money to producing molds. To recoup the costs of that work, we would need to output at manufacturing lots of 10,000 pieces or so. With a 3D printer, however, prototypes can be rapidly turned out even in single-piece runs. I think this gives us a big advantage. About five years ago, we marketed a titanium iPhone cover as an original product. While it proved quite popular, we also received requests from a steady stream of customers to produce similar titanium covers for use with the Android and various other models. To meet those needs would have required investment of several million yen for the development of each new mold, not to mention the fact that it would not be easy to produce those new versions. We were forced to explain those circumstances again and again to the clients, with that proving to be truly frustrating. I would say that this was the core experience that became a major driving force in our move to introduce 3D printers. ~ We understand that you are now active in the development of plastic iPhone covers, aroma pod attachments for car air conditioner jets and other items manufactured on 3D printers. Yoneyama: Yes, but it is also true that we are still feeling our way around in this area. Nevertheless, it is my own strong personal belief that such initiatives are possible for the very reason that we operate in the cities of Tsubame and Sanjo – a region where the traditions of manufacturing and craftsmanship have been faithfully cultivated and passed down over the generations. This is an area where certain factories have perfected outstanding metal-casting technology, for example, while others have developed lathe machining expertise and similar specialized skills. This landscape provides the opportunity to combine different strengths in collaborations targeting new frontiers. The love of craftsmanship is alive and well here, entrenched in the understanding that what companies cannot accomplish on their own can often be achieved by joining forces with others in rising to take on new challenges. From my own perspective as well, I do not feel that simply pushing on with manufacturing in the conventional mode will render it feasible for us to ensure that the industry in this locality prospers throughout the next generation – that is, when our own children are ready to truly take over the reins. There is a need to constantly incorporate new technology and ideas, paving the way to potential and skills capable of supporting new progress and development as an industry. With this project as well, therefore, it has proved extremely rewarding to receive the opportunity to engage in manufacturing with the type of talented young people advancing the work at Toyota and Kabuku. While 3D printers, CNC machines and other digital machine tools have the inherent capacity to create actual product shapes as such, without ideas about “what to make” there is no way for us to manifest the full range of that machining potential. Looking ahead, therefore, efforts to reach across the lines of different industries, regions and similar divisions to merge the forte fields existing in each respective domain hold tremendous significance indeed. In that sense, we truly look forward to gaining the opportunity to become a part of joint endeavors aimed at promising new initiatives. INTERVEIW & TEXT BY Keita Fukasawa (contributor) PHOTOGRAPHS BY Eiji Fukasaku ISSUED : 4 February 2016 "PROTOTYPING REPORT" Backnumber Opening up Manufacturing Makes for a More Enjoyable Company <Interview with President Masahiko Inada of Kabuku Inc.> 01 Pioneering the Future with the Fusion of 3D Printers and Japanese Artisan Skills <Interview with President Masahiko Inada of Kabuku Inc.> 02 "PROTOTYPING REPORT" Backnumber Opening up Manufacturing Makes for a More Enjoyable Company <Interview with President Masahiko Inada of Kabuku Inc.> 01 Pioneering the Future with the Fusion of 3D Printers and Japanese Artisan Skills <Interview with President Masahiko Inada of Kabuku Inc.> 02

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