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The shaping of things to come

For nearly as long as there have been cars, people have been collecting and customizing them. Until recently, however, if classic-car aficionados wanted to replace a damaged hood or fender on an out-of-production vehicle, they had to hire a craftsman to make a replacement or trudge through junkyards. Now, thanks to a new technology called dual-sided dieless forming, Nissan plans to offer original specification pieces at mass-production prices.

Automakers traditionally form body parts by pressing sheet metal against specially created dies. Designing and building multiple dies for each part is expensive and only pays off after stamping a large volume of parts. This basic process has remained largely unchanged since the early days of mass automaking. It remains a stumbling block that prevents low-volume production of inexpensive parts.

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