3D scanning solutions

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Customizing automobiles with Artec 3D scanners

Summary: A company specializing in auto customization chose 3D scanning to reduce the time needed for projects, while at the same time giving designers greater flexibility and more possibilities to work with their designs.

The Goal: To use a handheld 3D scanner to scan automobiles, then import 3D models of them into AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS, where requested changes are made, then check the safety/ergonomics of the model, get client approval, and create and install the needed parts.

Tools Used: Artec MHT, Artec Studio, AutoCAD, SOLIDWORKS

The Vladimir Auto Specialty Center began operating in 2003. The company specializes in exclusive work on automotive customizing. They create truly unique designs of interiors and convert large off-road vehicles and minivans into complete mobile offices. Since it began operations, the company has converted more than 2,500 automobiles. Recently the customization shop began using the Artec MHT scanner in order to reduce the time spent on each project. Now, instead of drawing a layout themselves, the designers first scan the automobile, and then add to the 3D model the changes requested by the client. Time is also saved on the engineering-design part of the project since now they can just export the 3D model to special software used for testing, which previously was done by designers.

Work process:

1. Automobile is completely scanned

Usually, it takes about 2 hours to scan an automobile, and then another 6-8 hours of processing with Artec Studio software. In general, the scanning of an automobile is a difficult task for any 3D scanner. The main problems are the many shiny details, the large size of the object, and the significant number of flat surfaces without any particular geometry. As a result, it is rare to obtain a model of a car such that all the details fit together perfectly without any inconsistencies. The Artec MHT scanner is able to do this. Problems sometimes arise only in spots where there is insufficient data on the geometry of the object. In that case, an employee at the customizing shop simply draws small X’s with a felt-tip pen. The procedure is very fast, and after scanning it is sufficient to simply wipe the machine. Because of this, there is no need to mark the surface of the object with special markers.

2. Designers use Auto Cad and SolidWorks software to make the requested changes to the model.
3. Engineers use Catia SolidWorks software to check the safety and ergonomics of the model.
4. The client approves the project.
5. Using industrial cutting and 3D milling details are made.
6. Parts are assembled.

According to the company’s employees, the use of the Artec MHT scanner allows them to speed up and simplify the technological process itself. Previously, they had to take all measurements using a tape measure, and for the sake of reliability, they repeated each measurement many times. Then, on the basis of these measurements and the requirements of the client, the designers drew a layout, which they then submitted for engineering and design study, where it would be checked from the point of view of safety and ergonomics. Only after that would the client give final approval of the design, and work on the automobile would begin.

Since the company began using the 3D scanner, the time from the creation of the design to approval by the client has been cut almost in half.

Below is a video showing how employees at Auto Specialty Center scan a BMW 7-series car for its next project.

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