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Aluminium is the material that defines the modern Jaguar. In this article, Production Studio Director Wayne Burgess describes the subtleties of working with a material that encapsulates the essence of the brand in 2015.

Jaguar Aluminium Exterior

“Aluminium delivers huge benefits in terms of reducing weight and recycling, which helps us create cars that are lighter, more responsive and more environmentally friendly,” says Wayne Burgess. For all its benefits though, aluminium can be a particularly challenging material to work with. “Aluminium tears more easily than steel, so the sorts of sharp edges, creases and very tight radii that we love to craft in the design studio can sometimes be difficult for the engineering team to create in reality” explains Burgess.

“We have to work very closely with the stamping and manufacturing experts to ensure that we always deliver the design language that defines a modern Jaguar. In some respects, we’re fortunate that Jaguars always have quite blown, powerful surfaces. We talk a lot about the muscularity of a Jaguar around the rear haunches, and that lends itself nicely to aluminium. It likes those crowned, muscular surfaces much more than if it was a harsh, brittle shape with sharp edges. But we also like to have – in the case of F-TYPE – the two crease lines that define the front and rear fenders. That’s where we have to work very closely with engineering and go through lots of iterations in the development of the stamping process to deliver the exact surface we desire.”

“The F-TYPE’s clamshell bonnet, for example, took a lot of work to get the definition we wanted. We had lots of trips to the stamping department, positioning the power bulge and vents so that we could draw the material down into those two apertures.”

Burgess goes on to explain how this impacts the working environment within Jaguar. “At Jaguar, the design and engineering teams have a very collaborative relationship, which is something we enjoy – whether it’s creating cars that are as beautifully engineered as they are designed, or solving problems together.”

“Our aluminium engineering and stamping teams really are experts in aluminium – world leaders. It’s rare nowadays that they can’t deliver the design language we want. With each successive Jaguar – from the old all-aluminium XJ in 2003, to today’s XE – we continue to get better at working with aluminium. In terms of numbers, the minimum radii that we can stamp has come down from 12mm to 8mm. It’s a really big deal to tighten the radii up by that amount. As a result, the limitations of working with aluminium are far less than they used to be.”