Gary S. Vasilash

Gary S. Vasilash is the founding editor of Automotive Design & Production (AD&P) magazine, a publication established in 1997 by Gardner Publications with the cooperation of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He is responsible for the editorial management and direction of the monthly magazine. Vasilash continues to write a monthly column for AD&P and contributes several stories to each issue.

Vasilash has more than 20 years of experience writing about the automotive industry, best practices and new technologies. His work has appeared in a variety of venues, ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Lightworks, a journal of contemporary art. He has made numerous presentations at a variety of venues ranging from the annual meeting of the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) to the Center for Constructive alternatives at Hillsdale College.

Prior to his present position, Vasilash was editor-in-chief of both Automotive Production and Production magazines—predecessors to AD&P. He joined Cincinnati, Ohio-based Gardner Publications in 1987 as executive editor of Production magazine.

Prior to that, Vasilash had editorial positions with the Rockford Institute and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and a Master of Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is a member of the Automotive Press Association.

Building Bikes
3. February 2017

According to the folks at Sculpteo, a 3d printing and engineering services company based outside of Paris, they built what they describe as “the first ever fully functional bike created using digital manufacturing.”


To prove that this is a real bike, not a booth exhibit, the two designers of the bike, Alexandre d’Orsetti and Piotr Widelka, rode it from Las Vegas, where it had been on display at CES, to San Francisco, where Sculpteo has a facility.

According to Sculpteo, 70 percent of the parts on the bike were 3D printed. These include:

· Pedals, made in aluminide with selective laser sintering (SLS)

· Connectors for the pedals, saddle, and handlebars from rigid polyurethane with continuous liquid interface production (CLIP)

· Connection parts for the frame in wheels with SLS

· Brake parts in titanium with direct metal laser sintering (SMLS)

· Brake parts in flexible polyurethane with CLIP

· Brake parts in elastomeric polyurethane with CLIP

· Saddle and other brake parts in polyamide with SLS

According to d’Orsetti, they decided to outsource some of the bike elements that didn’t lend themselves to Sculpteo’s equipment, including the cables, brake cases and clamping bracket.

The bike cost less than $4,000 to produce.

However, it required seven weeks to design and build.

Certainly, the bike is carefully crafted, but still, seven weeks seems a bit long.

So while not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, we found Mission Bicycle Company in San Francisco, which hand-builds bikes in its facility on Valencia Street. Admittedly, the 4130 chromoloy steel frame is produced in a factory in Taiwan and shipped, unpainted, to San Francisco, where it is powder coated.

All of the elements are put together to build a bike that is assembled to order, with a starting price of $999 and a delivery time within four weeks.

To be sure, a largely 3D printed bike is impressive, but there are still time and cost gaps that need to be addressed.

Mercedes Makes a New Speedform
2. February 2017

If we go back to the Mercedes A-Class of 2008, we find this:


That vehicle looks more utilitarian than Mercedesian. So when they redid the car for 2012, the designers came up with this:


The design of that A-Class was defined by edges and creases by indentations and recesses.

This approach was then replicated, in size and vehicle-type appropriate ways, on subsequent Mercedes models.

The time for that design is passing, according to Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler, with what they’re calling “Aesthetics A” sculpture.

It looks like this:


Obviously, that is a speedform, not an actual vehicle.

Wagener said, “Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme.”

So the focus now is on surfaces rather than the intersections of surfaces.


Wagener said, Design is also the art of omission: the days of creases are over.”

What’s interesting to note is that what will morph into the next A-Class is a three-box design.

As we advance toward more automated vehicles, when we are availing ourselves of car sharing (i.e., need a pickup truck on the weekends, book one; simply driving to work with nothing more than a briefcase, then do you really need a vehicle with a trunk?), won’t the days of three-box design be if not exactly over, then at least greatly diminished?

Profound Painting
1. February 2017

Imagine a paint job—and “job” is a rather pedestrian word in this context—for a vehicle that is 10 layers thick and which uses 250 percent more paint than the standard, a standard which is already superlative.

That’s the sort of surface that’s found on two of 30 Rolls-Royce extended wheelbase Phantoms that were commissioned—and this the largest single commission Rolls Bespoke has taken on—by Stephen Hung for his 13 Hotel in Macau.


Gold paint.  As in real gold in paint.

“Only at the Home of Rolls-Royce would a team embark on such an ambitious project on behalf of one of our patrons. We accept nothing but perfection – the finish took eight attempts to mix the perfect colour,” said Rolls-Royce Material Scientist, Nick Geehan.

And special equipment was installed at the Surface Finish Centre at the Rolls-Royce Global Centre of Excellence in Goodwood to help assure that the process would be performed without a flaw.

Oh, and we should mention that the paint features metallic inclusions—23.75-carat gold.

Why not the classic 24-carat variety? Because the particles selected disperse better.

There are also glass and aluminum particles included with the gold to provide “an alluring shimmer.” Which sounds like something out of a P.G. Wodehouse story.

The gold layer, incidentally, is 40 microns, which is approximately the radius of a human hair.


The Spirit of Ecstasy is  97.1 grams of 18-carat gold plated with 24-carat gold.  That Rolls RR logo?  Surrounded by 336 pavé set brilliant-cut diamonds

Hyperloop in Central Europe
31. January 2017

While looking into Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, it came to our attention that last May the company announced that a “base technology” for its system--which will have a capsule containing people that will be propelled through a pylon mounted tube--is “Vibranium,” which it describes as a “smart material specifically developed for the Hyperloop application.”

We thought that it was a material that was specifically developed for the Marvel Universe, though we may be wrong. (For an interesting look at vibranium vs. adamantium, we’d like to call your attention to a piece that appeared in Machine Design last year, as well, which you can see here.)


But the Hyperloop Vibranium was created with help from a company with carbon-fiber composite capability, C2i of Slovakia. The material is described as being “made of sensor-embedded carbon fiber” that’s “eight times stronger than aluminum and 10 times stronger than steel.” What’s more, it weighs “roughly five times less than steel and 1.5 times less than aluminum.”

Perhaps they know something about the prospects of traveling in a tube at up to 760 mph in central Europe because last week Hyperloop announced that it signed an exploratory agreement with the city of Brno, Czech Republic, on the possibility of connecting it with Bratislava, Slovakia, with which it also has a development agreement.

Turns out that Bratislava is about an hour northwest of Dunajska Streda, Slovakia, where C2i is based. That’s an hour by car, not Hyperloop capsule.

Will the Hyperloop take form—as in physical, real, rideable form?

According to Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, “Since we have solved all the technical issues, it is now crucial for us to collaborate with governments around the world.”

All of the technical issues?

Chevy’s ZR2, Ford’s Apple Pick & More
30. January 2017

The forthcoming Chevy Colorado ZR2 is designed and engineered to be able to handle off-road situations of all types with aplomb. Compared to the conventional Colorado, the suspension is lifted two inches for greater ground clearance. And because the ground is not always cleared, the front bumper integrates an aluminum skid plate that protects the radiator and oil pan, and there is a shield to protect the transfer case, as well. In addition to which there are steel tube rocker protectors running along the sides because, again, sometimes when you’re crawling over rocks, the rocks get in the way. Compared to the standard Colorado, the front and rear track are increased so the truck is 3.5-inches wider, so that it is better planted to deal with demanding traverses. There are cast-iron control arms in place, again to address the demands of off-road conditions.

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

And there is the use of DSSV damper technology—that’s as in Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve—from Multimatic, a company that is better known for its involvement in supplying dampers for vehicles that go really fast (e.g., the Camaro Z28), not that are driving through Moab.

An interesting aspect of these dampers, explains Anita Burke, chief engineer, GM Midsize Trucks, is that not only does the multiple valving mean that they can accommodate the toughest of terrain, but they also provide the sort of damping that is expected by those who are looking for smooth operation on their drives to and from the off-road course. This is because, Burke says on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” that people who buy midsize trucks like the Colorado (including the ZR2 variant, which will become available Spring 2017), not only use their trucks for adventuring, but also plain-old commuting. These are people who want something capable, but also something that won’t beat them up on their everyday driving. (And if their everyday driving happens to be more like the Rubicon than the interstate, then the DSSV helps accommodate that, too, thank you very much.)

The exterior of Chevrolet’s ZR2 Multimatic DSSV Position Sensitive Spool Valve Dampers. In all views, the damper with the coil spring is for the truck front, and the one with the protective sleeve is for the truck rear.

Burke talks about the ZR2, the other non-ZR2 Colorados, and the GMC Canyon, too (remember: she is the chief engineer for all GM midsize trucks) to Autoline’s John McElory, Chris Paukert of Roadshow by CNET and me on the show.

Then McElroy, Paukert and I discuss a number of subjects from Ford’s recent hire from Apple, NAFTA and what the implications could be for auto, NHTSA’s Tesla Autopilot accident absolution, and more on the show.

And you can see it here:

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