Lovingly Hand-Crafted:
How the Award Trophy is Made


The Daimler Supplier Award is presented once a year in recognition of outstanding performances by automotive suppliers. The members of the Board of Management and Procurement Heads have been awarding the trophy since 2009, with a different look each time. Always adapted to Daimler's current design world. How is a Daimler Supplier Award trophy made?

The Design unit at Mercedes-Benz Cars was already working on the subject six months until the next award ceremony. That’s because the look of the trophy is being decided at that time. Which vehicle will the design be based on? What are the highlights and how could they be implemented in the design of the trophy?

The design of the award trophy embodies Daimler and its partners, who are working together to aim upwards. The dynamic sculpture emphasizes the aspects of openness and transparency that are required for any performance-oriented partnership. Elegant chrome-plated curve or popping metallic red: The Design unit decides how the trophy is to be made based on the specific award optics. The trophy is produced by a supplier based in Leonberg near Stuttgart, Germany: Kurz Modellbau. They have produced the award from the very beginning.

An idea takes shape

First, the designer at Kurz develops the trophy on a PC. This is done using the CATIA professional 3D design software. By using a digital mockup, design engineers can measure packages, color impact, proportions and functions in real time on standard desktop computers. Once everything fits, the designer creates precise drawings of each individual part for the modeler.

CAD Model
Mechanical engineer Arne Schaarschuh designs the Daimler Supplier Award on his computer.

The second step involves producing the parts using metal and plastic. The modeler creates the original metal components directly, i.e. without first preparing a negative mold as in the case of plastic parts. The trophy’s curve is made from brass, and the pedestal and lower ring are made of aluminum. The modeler clamps the parts. They are made using milling and turning machinery.

He or she then tempers the surfaces of the individual components, that means polishing and sealing. They are partly chrome-plated and partly painted as the material would otherwise oxidize on contact with hand perspiration. There are seven layers of paint on the curve alone!

One highlight of the next trophy is the addition of the Daimler logo to the aluminum pedestal using a very complex process. First, a milling machine of the firm Industrie-Gravuren Leonberg, Germany, engraves the company’s name onto the pedestal. Then the individual letters are cutted out of a sheet of stainless steel using a laser, and inserted into the engraved surface.

The department designation of the Daimler Procurement unit and the name of the winning company are engraved in the pedestal with milling equipment.
The pedestal of the trophy showcases a prominent Daimler logo. The model designer lasers the letters individually from a steel plate.

A prototype of every plastic part is produced using a 3D printer. These include the partially transparent fan, two rings to disperse light, the battery compartment and the assembly plate. The modeler then applies various surface tempering techniques, polishing, priming and painting the pieces as you would with metal components.

The master forms from the 3D printer are used to create flexible negative molds from silicone, with which the modeler makes the plastic parts of the trophy.

The prototypes are used to produce a negative mold made of silicone. This is hardened in an oven for 24 hours before the modeler produces the original trophy components using a vacuum forming process. This is done by pouring various resins (i.e. the plastic) into the negative mold and allowing them to harden. The parts are removed from the mold while they are still warm. If they were cold they could break! Finally, the modeler also refines the original plastic parts with more sanding, painting and polishing.

Judith Burger sands and polishes the box with a small sponge.

In a special light – LEDs like diamonds

Once the individual parts have been prepared they are assembled. This step alone takes four days. The modeler needs two full hours of work per award to solder the circuit board with the various wiring harnesses. The circuit board is the heart of the award that causes the fan and rings to illuminate. This is where the wire for the battery compartment, the switch and the main adapter come together. Each component has to be soldered individually in a painstaking process. The modeler then covers everything with a heat-resistant and non-conducting potting compound coating so that the part can neither catch fire nor short-circuit.

The Daimler Supplier Award trophy is the automotive sector’s only trophy with integrated lighting. Daimler had this, as well as a small-scale dog-in function, incorporated retroactively in 2014. A total of six LED lights and two light diffusion rings make the award unique in the way it sparkles like a diamond.

The foot of the pedestal houses the light rings and cable tree which connects the LEDs.

A new guise

The Daimler Supplier Awards trophy expresses the perfect interplay between Daimler AG and its suppliers. And every trophy looks different!
Its form remains the same, but the colors of the curve, the pedestal and the light make it into a unique design artwork in every year. From the matt-blue paint of the curve on the first trophy in 2008 via the bright yellow “lumilectric magno” in 2010 to the futuristic “cyan ice blue” of the most recent award ceremony – the award is the focus of attention year after year. We let you know what the different colors mean in the image gallery. But you will have to wait until the award ceremony on February 25 to find out what this year’s award looks like.

Jan 20, 2016
Elvina Wolf