World-famous car shop West Coast Customs kicks it into 6th gear with Artec Eva

23/09/2019

The world's most famous auto customization shop turned to 3D scanning to speed up workflows, increase accuracy, and open the door to new creative possibilities.

When they say, “If you can dream it, we can build it,” West Coast Customs isn't joking around. On top of that, most of their builds are 1 of 1 Custom Builds.  Early Monday mornings find their team of designers, technicians, fabricators, and painters gathered together in their 60,000 square foot (5,600 m2) shop and headquarters in Burbank, California to plan out the week ahead.

Synchronizing the efforts of two dozen specialists working on 30+ projects at any given time is a balancing act that would make an air traffic controller proud.

West Coast Customs achieved its fame early on by taking auto customization up to the next level. Whether that’s boosting a car’s horsepower, beefing up the suspension, giving it a dazzling paint job, thundering exhaust pipes, extra-wide wheels, Indy-500-level steering, or whatever body mods you can dream up, West Coast’s designers are ready to sit down with you, sketch it out, and literally set the wheels in motion.

West Coast Customs’ Black Panther Lexus LC 500

Some of their celebrity clients include Shaquille O’Neal, Will I Am, Post Malone, Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Jojo Siwa, Paris Hilton, Kid Rock, Mark Wahlberg, and others. Corporate clients include Warner Brothers, Virgin, Lexus, Marvel, HP, CBS, DC Entertainment, Nintendo, Microsoft, Red 5 Studios, etc.

A few of West Coast Customs’ recent, more high-profile projects include the Star Trek Slingshot Vehicle, the Black Panther Lexus, and the West Coast Racers rollercoaster/Six Flags.

Star Trek Polaris Slingshot vehicle in West Coast Customs’ showroom

A critical phase of the customization process is measuring a car and designing mods that blend perfectly with the car’s existing fascia, structure, components, and chassis. How West Coast Customs did this in the past was entirely by hand, and that meant rulers, calipers, tape measures, pencils and pens, etc.

Some parts are trickier than others. For example, doors, hoods, and bumpers are relatively easy to measure, but when it comes to fenders, grills, headlights, mirrors, and smaller, more complex objects with thin edges and curves, such as interiors and steering wheels, that’s where hand measurement really struggles.

It was painfully slow, with redos needed more often than not. As their plate of projects grew fuller, with deadlines becoming tighter, the old way was no longer acceptable. And that’s when they began to explore the possibilities of 3D scanning.

During a demo by the 3D scanning specialists from Artec Certified Reseller Rapid Scan 3D, the management at West Coast Customs saw that this was the edge they were looking for. They decided upon the Artec Eva, a professional structured-light 3D scanner that’s world-famous for its ability to quickly scan anything from auto parts to human bodies and deliver stunning, high-precision color 3D models in mere minutes.

“Once we saw what Eva could do for us in terms of its accuracy and speeding up the workflow, we were totally sold. Eva is a huge time saver for us, and we’re talking about saving us weeks in production man-hours every month,” said Lorenzo Strong, West Coast Customs’ VP of Sales. “All those hard-to-measure parts that took us hours to measure in the past? In just a few minutes, Eva scans everything in full color, way more precisely than by hand, and with no miscalculations.”

3D scanning the future Star Trek Polaris Slingshot vehicle with Eva and Artec Studio software

Whether they’re scanning an entire car, or just part of one, once they’ve finished scanning with Eva, they process the 3D scans in Artec Studio, and then export the 3D model over to Geomagic Design X or SOLIDWORKS. There they make the modifications, which can be anything from widening wheel wells, stretching the grill, lowering the body, or in the case of the Black Panther Lexus, also adding in the unforgettable touch of those Black Panther claws on the side view mirrors.

3D scanning the soon-to-be Black Panther Lexus with Eva and Artec Studio software

The final 3D models are then sent over to their CNC machine for milling, or to their 3D printer, or utilized as part of the project’s digital blueprints. They’ve also used their Eva to scan and reverse engineer legacy parts that are either extremely difficult to source, with long wait times and high asking prices, or even entirely unavailable.

“Imagine what it means for a project deadline when the parts supplier says he’s not sure he can get some crucial part for us in a week or a month, or even at all. Talk about a show stopper. But now we don’t sweat it. We’ve reverse engineered so many things with our Eva, and our 3D printers and milling machine are just a few steps away,” said Strong.

West Coast Customs recently picked up the latest professional handheld Artec 3D scanner, the Artec Leo. A fully wireless scanner, Leo gives users onboard automatic processing, where you see a 3D replica of your object appearing in real time on the scanner’s touch screen.

West Coast Customs’ VP of Sales Lorenzo Strong scanning a Porsche with Artec Leo

With a data acquisition speed of up to 3 million points/second and no need for target markers, plus the ability scan in anything from broad daylight to pitch darkness, Leo is truly the next generation of 3D scanner, which makes it perfect for West Coast Customs and their next level customizations.

Strong was the first at West Coast Customs to use Leo, “To say that Leo is easy to use is a real understatement. It didn’t need even 5 minutes of instruction to be up and scanning with it. With Leo’s touch panel screen, it’s totally intuitive and interactive.”

West Coast Customs’ VP of Sales Lorenzo Strong scanning a Porsche with Artec Leo

He continued, “With Leo, we can just pick up and go. We can take it with us anywhere throughout the shop and it’s ready to scan, no laptop, no cables, everything’s built in. Even out in the parking lot or at a client’s location…it scans like a dream even on a bright summer day, full data capture from the first go.”

Artec Leo’s touch panel screen in action

West Coast Customs is already expanding its use of 3D scanning across its innovative research and design workflows. According to Lorenzo Strong, “When they say ‘the sky is the limit,’ Artec Leo is second to none, and we’re really excited with what you’ve made it possible for us to do.”