3D scanning has become a large component of business with tremendous benefits for a multitude of sectors, but its roots lie in manufacturing. Efficiently creating accurate new designs to meet demands carries its own set of hurdles, but there are often other projects that also require precise solutions. Some of the demands that modern automotive manufacturing companies may face include redesigning a part to fit in a particular location, or documenting legacy parts for continued production support. Let’s look at how Artec uses their 3D scanners to provide solutions for these challenges.
Custom Auto Chassis Design
Our first example takes us to Paramount, CA where Tekk Consulting designs high-performance chassis for off-road race trucks. The team has more than a decade of experience in this arena. Achieving the ultimate strength-to-weight ratio is a goal they have with every design. Tekk is good at what they do and they have built a reputation as the guys who get it done. Because of this, business was gaining momentum which left Tekk looking for a way to speed up their day-to-day productivity without compromising quality or safety.
Jason Heard and Jack Fisher run Tekk Consulting and knew they had to make a change to their existing workflow to remain competitive. They began looking for ways to make it tighter and faster, without forfeiting the high quality they were known for. One of the first things they scrutinized was how they were measuring auto bodies, parts, and components.
The traditional methods, using calipers, tape measures and rulers, were their guarantee that the dimensions were accurate, but manual measurement is a painfully slow process that adds hours, sometimes days, to every project.
Through extensive research, they discovered that similar custom shops were saving hours on each project by replacing manual measurements with 3D scanning. The lightweight, handheld nature and the high-accuracy of the Artec Eva caught their eye so they arranged an onsite demo. The demo focused on scanning challenge areas that are difficult and tedious to measure manually.
“That was it. In the first 15 minutes of the demo, we knew that we’d found our answer, so we bought it then and there. Didn’t need any training, it’s that easy to use. We didn’t even take a peek at the manual. We just bought it and then spent the rest of the afternoon scanning everything around the shop. By the end of the day, we had our workflow down pat,” says Heard.
In the unfortunate event that the car or truck were to roll over, you always want to have enough distance between you and the chassis. With Eva, they have been able to maximize that to the fullest. “And that’s an epic plus for us. It’s a direct result of having a perfect scan of the body of the car or truck, which then lets us design a chassis that fits it like a glove.”
He went on, “And when we compare our scans with Eva to the CAD files that eventually show up? Wow! You wouldn’t believe how closely they match up. Every time. At first, we were surprised, but after hundreds of projects, we’ve gotten used to it. Now we don’t even wait for CAD files. We just scan and get down to work. That alone has saved us days of waiting.”
Tekk Consulting Inc has become such an advocate of Eva and 3D scanning that they’ve begun selling their scans online and recommends Artec Eva to everyone they can in the industry, without pause. “I’m totally fine with sharing what we do here., including details about the amazing tech that we’ve been using. A huge thanks to our Eva, we are where we are today, with a backlog of work and the ability to pick and choose our projects,” states Heard.
Improving Performance with More Data and Simulation
At TriMech, our engineers are always excited about the technologies that we offer our clients. One of our Senior Application Engineers, Ryan Zeck has been racing since he was a child and has developed a passion for it. Ryan wanted to make his project car, a Thunder Roadster, go faster (of course) and he used several items in the TriMech product portfolio to make it happen, starting with a 3D scan of the car.
Part suppliers for cars like the Thunder Roadster are very limited and a safe, high-performance auto component design is what Ryan was looking for. Using the Artec 3D scanners Ryan was able to create a textured and accurate 3D model of the Roadster so that he could create the custom upgrades of some key components.
Using GeoMagic DesignX, Ryan was able to produce the most exact, complete set of features for editable models directly to SOLIDWORKS so that he could evaluate, modify and verify changes for ultimate performance using SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation. This software gave him powerful computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis capabilities so that he could understand how the air flows across the hood of the car at varying racing speeds.
Ryans main concern was the airflow reaching the engine hood scoop, so he decided to only conduct the study across the front section of the roadster. This minimized the time and resources for the analysis, yet still, provided the same results as if the whole car had been analyzed.
Once the flow across the hood had been verified, the next steps were to design some guide inlets to make sure that the air entering the hood scoop was making its way to the engine’s intake manifold. SOLIDWORKS CAD was used for the design and and a Stratasys FDM 3D Printer was chosen for creating the prototype to make sure the design could withstand the grueling demands of the racing world.
Prior to printing out an entire inlet, the design needed to be tested for accurate fit. This prototyping step helped save time and material. Upon completion of the final product, the results were a more efficient and faster car. This was a fantastic project to demonstrate how 3D scanning and printing can be used for a custom upgrade, and it is easy to see how it can be used to upgrade the manufacturing process on a larger scale.
Dramatically Minimize Turnaround
In our final example, we look at the need to document out of production parts. This is great, especially for those in the process of restoring an older car who find they can no longer obtain some of the original equipment parts.
Taylor Attachments is a UK company that custom designs and produces tractor headstock conversion brackets. Taylor needed to find a way to measure and reproduce their clients’ legacy equipment quickly and precisely.
Historically, this has been an entirely manual process which meant a busy 7-12 hours of making drawings using rulers and calipers, pens and pencils to trace out parts and components on cardboard and paper, before creating mock up prototypes for testing and secondary alterations.
The entire process entailed lots of cross-referencing and double-checking and would take anywhere from 2-3 weeks for each part. And since it's entirely manual, it’s an inaccurate process, requiring lots of fine-tuning before each reproduction is ready to be shipped.
Taylor knew there was a better way to capture this data and partnered with Artec. They now use the Eva scanner to make a positive impact in their day-to-day workflow while standing out from the crowd with more advanced and accurate methods than their competitors.
In the words of Mark Taylor, the owner of Taylor Attachments, “Eva has literally saved us days, if not weeks of work, and that’s no exaggeration. Previously we were spending all that time creating prototypes to test, then that many more hours on alterations to reach the level of perfect, compared to now achieving perfection the first time, and every time, with Eva.”
3D scanning has dramatically minimized turnaround time for Taylor's replacement headstocks, making a huge difference in their abilities to expand work volume while still maintaining superior quality.
“Now with Eva, it takes only about 20 minutes to scan an entire headstock, then another 20 minutes to post process everything in Artec Studio, and after that the 3D model from Studio is sent over to our in-house design team. They use the Xtract3D add-in for SOLIDWORKS to create a beautiful, highly precise 3D model that's 100% ready for production. After that, it’s immediately sent over to one of our laser cutting partners, all of whom work to the highest standards. What are we looking at in terms of individual project time with Eva? Everything from start to finish in less than 24 hours. That’s it. Compare that with the 7 days to 2-3 weeks it took us when we were doing it the old way. There’s simply no going back for us.”
As you can see, 3D printing allows for the customization of the user's needs. Whether it is large or small-scale production, there are multiple advantages of using this technology for the automotive industry that go well beyond cost-savings. When you choose the correct tool for the job, you will also reap the benefits of easier of prototyping, improved product quality, easily scalable systems, and robust printing capabilities and materials that will fit within almost any project scope imaginable.
If you’re interested in exploring how 3D scanning is being used in other industries, watch our on-demand webinar "The Advances of 3D Scanning in Industrial Applications".