A Unique Look at How ŠKODA Model Cars are Made

A Unique Look at How ŠKODA Model Cars are Made

Models

When he was little, he always wanted to add a ŠKODA 105 to his collection of toy cars. Now, Jan Mizera can finally make his dream come true as the director of ABREX, a company making die-cast models of ŠKODA cars under licence. Take a look at how they are produced!

1. 10. 2019

As many customers are collectors, the company – from Divišov in Central Bohemia – is keen for its models not only to be as faithful as possible to the original, but also for them to retain and, over time, increase their investment value. This is why it uses zamak – a zinc alloy injected into the metal moulds – in its manufacturing.

skoda-jan-mizera-abrex-cars-models

Jan Mizera, the director of ABREX company

“Investing in moulds is very costly. Only a few companies worldwide have decided to take the plunge, and in Europe there are just a handful of us. In the Czech Republic, no one but us makes these models from beginning to end,” explains Jan Mizera as he describes the different production stages.

MINING THE DATA

The first step is to get the data required for production. With modern models, this process is quite simple: ABREX receives 3D data directly from ŠKODA under a licence. With older models, things are much more complicated. 3D scanning is needed to get the measurements right. A real vehicle is scanned in the workshop in Divišov using a modern scanner that guarantees minimal deformation of the measurements. The scanner creates the web of anchor points that will ultimately result in a 3D model.

“When a scan is scaled down, the 3D scanner isn’t able to erase the excess points. Even when we’ve pared down the model, it’s still too big and complicated to work with. We can print it on a 3D printer, but that is unusable for the subsequent working of the moulds. There is currently no software able to reduce and simplify the model. 3D data, then, is more of a template for us. When we’re designing the model, we have to adjust the data and manually create each surface. We basically remodel the car from scratch. Having said that, we do still have the advantage of having something to cling to, so deformation is kept to a minimum,” explains Jan Mizera.

abrex-skoda-3d-model

With older models, things are much more complicated. 3D scanning is needed to get the measurements right.

Scaling down the model to the required size is extremely complicated. Take the 1:43 scale, for example. When you’re faced with making a life-size car 43 times smaller, you need to start making compromises. The human eye distorts sizes. If we were to reduce a real vehicle by 43 times and then look at the accurately-dimensioned miniature model, it would appear completely different from the original. That’s why we need to balance and choose wisely which parts we want to reduce or accentuate so that the final model looks as much as possible like the real thing.

“This phase is actually very subjective. I often say that we could give the same data to twenty designers and we’d get back twenty completely different models. Each designer has a slightly different perception of the model,” adds Jan.

Once the sample is finished, the mould is designed in 3D data. At this point, “mould inserts” are designed, allowing us to move on to the actual production.

PRODUCTION STAGES

First things first: the first phase is to make the mould. ZAMAK is not the only material used in production, and each material needs its own mould. “The chassis, pneumatics, and interior are made of black plastic, while the window panes are clear plastic. We usually use at least four moulds to design a single model,” says Mizera.

abrex-skoda-cars-parts-models

The painted bodywork and various parts now reach the final phase: the assembly and finish, which is also often performed manually.

The moulds are made in the toolroom. Once they’re done, the next phase is to press the cast. Molten zinc or plastic is injected into the mould’s iron cavity. When the mould is opened, it’s important for the cast to come out without any damage or deformations. This is an art in itself. If you get a negative bevel, the cast won’t fall out properly. Basically, what the negative bevel means is a situation where a fold forms on the model, resulting in deformations on the cast, complicating its smooth removal from the mould. If you do have the misfortune of a negative bevel, you have to work on the cast a bit more, which logically prolongs the production process.

abrex-skoda-modeling-cars-models-iron

The moulds are made in the toolroom. Once they’re done, the next phase is to press the cast.

“The goal is to pull out the cast perfectly the first time so that we do not have to work it any further. That’s the most difficult part of the production,” explains Mizera. The cast has to be ground in a grinding machine and then it’s finally ready for further processing. Mizera explains that pressing plastic is much like processing zinc.

abrex-skoda-cars-iron-models

The cast has to be ground in a grinding machine and then it’s finally ready for further processing.

Now comes the stage where the cast needs to be modified: it’s time to paint the bodywork. This phase is often done manually rather than as part of mass production. Details such as the handles, lines or various prints are created using templates. All parts of the copper template that aren’t supposed to be painted are masked, allowing just the necessary parts to be painted.

skoda-abrex-final-car-body-models

The stage where the cast needs to be modified: it’s time to paint the bodywork. This phase is often done manually rather than as part of mass production.

The painted bodywork and various parts now reach the final phase: the assembly and finish, which is also often performed manually. The most commonly used scales are 1:43, 1:72 and 1:24.

Collectors and fans can explore all the models in the Museum of Cars and Toys in the castle near Přísek in the Jihlava region, Czech Republic.

ABREX

ABREX was founded in 1998. The idea was simple: as a Czech company, they wanted to draw a complete map of Czech automobile production, a challenge that is impossible without ŠKODA. They began making ŠKODA models in 2003 and a year later the first model saw the light of day: the second-generation ŠKODA OCTAVIA.

skoda-gold-models-abrex-cars

ABREX quickly obtained a licence to manufacture all ŠKODA models. But the collaboration went far beyond that, with ABREX starting to make preview models based on data provided by ŠKODA.

Production is now split between China and the Czech Republic, but the company is working on increasing the Czech Republic’s share. With this in mind, in 2016 it made the first model produced solely in the Czech Republic – the ŠKODA FORMAN. In 2018, this was joined by another all-Czech model: the ŠKODA 1201, available as the famous ambulance, a hearse, or a sedan.

This website uses cookies.

More information on processing of your personal data through cookies and more information about your rights may be found in the Information about processing of personal data through cookies and other web technologies. Below you may grant your consent to processing of your personal data also for the stated purposes.