Design on the fly – 3 examples of 3D scanning accelerating product development

Marta MatvijevNovember 16, 20224 minute read

The world of manufacturing continues to reap the benefits of 3D scanning. Since the first 3D scanners burst into the commercial market, we’ve seen innumerable applications, from replicating out-of-production train tracks at record speed to inspecting sizeable aerospace components more accurately than ever before. 

There are also many examples of individuals using 3D scanning in adventurous feats of engineering or to make bespoke products for personal use. One factor enabling the broader adoption of 3D scanning is scan-based design software that's easy to use even for people who aren't engineers or highly-experienced operators. 

As 3D scanning technology becomes more affordable, we'll see more and more smaller-scale, creative projects. Here are three recent cases that caught our attention. 

1. Automotive YouTube star designs custom brackets and dash parts for a Toyota E90 Supra

Reverse engineering technology, which uses 3D scans to create digital designs, is often used in the automotive sector to create replacements for missing, worn or hard-to-find car parts. It comes as no surprise that Adam LZ, automotive YouTuber and professional motorsports racer, harnessed 3D scanning technology to reverse engineer parts for his Toyota E90 Supra.  

To help Adam LZ make custom brackets for a new transmission assembly and a custom part for a dash, engineers used a workflow combining the FARO Quantum Max ScanArm and Geomagic Design X, developed by Oqton. They scanned the relevant sections of the car and loaded the scans into the software to design parts that fit directly to the existing geometry.

The scanner was so simple to use that, after a couple of tips from the Geomagic and FARO teams, Adam LZ could collect the data himself. You can see the process and the new dash in a webinar with Gregory George, Application Engineer Manager at Oqton, and Will Pitarello, Senior Applications Specialist at FARO. As a special treat, you get a peek into Adam LZ’s compound.

2. 3D scanning a submarine for a perfect finish

Dedicated awning manufacturer Joe Gore realised he needed to turn his attention to a different kind of project, so he decided to build a submarine. With the help of his work colleagues, he created a handmade mould for the dome and then poured it, a process which took four years.  

The impressive feat of engineering exhibited just a few small imperfections that often come with a handmade process, but which would impact the visibility once the dome was in the water. 3D scanning technology proved a key tool in ensuring the perfect finish of the dome.

Computer Aided Technology (CATI), a product development solutions provider, helped Gore and his team finalize the submarine by scanning the shape of the dome, including the imperfections, creating a digital model in Geomagic Design X, and finally removing the distortions. The perfect digital model was used to resurface the dome with CNC milling, resulting in better underwater visibility. You can see Gore’s story about making the submarine in CATI’s video.

This workflow combines reverse engineering, where customers usually ask for 3D scanning to create a CAD model, with quality control, where customers have the CAD data but request 3D scanning to check the dimensional accuracy. 

3. Reverse engineering a fishing boat propeller 

Reverse engineering attracts much attention from engineering professionals and enthusiasts alike because it makes manufacturing seem astonishingly simple. To put this idea to the test, Jake Hall, a content creator specialising in topics related to manufacturing, decided to replicate a broken propeller. 

Hall, who adopted the alias Manufacturing Millennial, created a video about the process of reverse engineering a fishing motor propeller for a friend who broke a blade when hitting a stump underwater. Hall first scanned the damaged propeller with a FARO Quantum Max ScanArm, to capture the shape, which took him only about 5-6 minutes. Design X was used to reverse engineer and rebuild the missing blade’s CAD data, using the point cloud gathered with the FARO arm.

The digital model of the repaired propeller was exported and additively manufactured. You can see the entire process, from scan to print, in Hall’s LinkedIn post

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