Designing customized racing car parts with Artec Space Spider 3D scanner
Thanks to 3D scanning, new parts with guaranteed results are developed in no time.
Full-speed 3D scanning
With his background as a computer game programmer and his great passion for building cars, Chris Ashton quickly found his way into the world of 3D scanning. “I deal with 3D programs most of the day, and that probably helped me understand scanners and their software.”
Ashton, who is in charge of designing, fabricating, modifying, and building “street” race cars with his California-based company Ruffian Cars, turned to his Artec retailer in the Source Grafica area. After obtaining information and seeing a live scanning demo, Ashton purchased two 3D scanners: an Artec Space Spider and an Artec Eva.
A car ready to hit the road
The challenge. Customizing a road racing car and its specific details.
Using Artec Eva, Ashton 3D scanned an entire GT 40, while with Space Spider he was able to enlarge some individual components of the car.
The project: total customization of this classic car to make it not only ready for the road, but also looking stunning. “The fenders are what initially led me to evaluate the scanners,” Ashton said. “When I finished scanning, the parts were imported into Blender or SketchUp 3D modeling programs, depending on the shape, and the fenders were mounted as separate pieces on top of the body, then printed.”
Ashton explains the process, “First I scan the original fenders of the car, bring it into the computer and model a digital fender over it. Then I use a VR visor to walk around the car and look at the parts in virtual 3D, and can make any artistic changes. When I’m satisfied with the digital files, I print the fenders on a large-format 3D printer.”
The 3D printed fenders are tested and then sent to a supplier to make the mold. This makes it possible to mass produce the carbon fiber parts.
The GT40, ready for its customized headlights
The variable geometry of the rear side of a headlight has been accurately recreated in this scan of the Space Spider
The advantages of 3D scanning: the reliability of the result in least time
This workflow is different from the way customizing a car was done before. While already using 3D printing, the process required more time, testing, model creation, trial and error. “The big advantage of using the scanner is being able to digitally build the fenders on a full-scale scan of the car, thus knowing that they will fit correctly, and the left and right sides will be a reflection of each other.”
3D scans of the original fenders were used as the base for designing custom fenders in Blender.
In addition to a real-time look at how custom parts will fit, this process also greatly reduces the time spent.
“3D scanning significantly reduces the development time for new parts, particularly on curved shapes that are difficult to measure,” Ashton said. “Also, I can be confident that the first print will go well, and I won’t have to wait five or six 8-hours.”
“In the past I would have had to make a mold of the fenders in foam or clay, right on top of the car, and take the whole car to a machine shop for them to make molds out of it (or I would have had to do it myself, which is a lot of work and requires the use of different chemicals). And I would have had to do the job twice because you can’t make a mirror copy of a part.”
Recently, Ashton has continued to work on the car, customizing everything from headlights to seat belt buckles and fenders.
“The headlights combine new Toyota LED headlight components with a Superformance GT40 shell to upgrade the look of this classic race car,” he described.
The inner angles and curves of this headlight were captured for exact measurements, which would have been difficult to obtain in any other way.
Another key advantage of working with 3D scanning is the closeness to reality of the designs created. “Since the scans come to me on the computer at full scale, I can model my new parts around it and print them without any scale issues. This is a huge improvement over how we used to work: we would take measurements and rely on them and hope they were correct,” Ashton said.
The assembled headlight design
“Seeing the developed part is my favorite part! It’s magic. From an object in a computer, we go to an actual item that looks the same!”
The custom-made headlight fits like a second skin.
3D scanning not only for cars…
And customizing cars is not the only way 3D scanning and printing has improved Ashton’s work and life. “My girlfriend bought an antique chandelier with candle holders, complete with faux wax dripping down the sides,” he described. “The only problem was that it only had one lamp holder and needed eight. But now there is no need to look everywhere in an attempt to find these rare replacement parts. I scanned the lamp holder with Space Spider and printed seven copies!” “Every time I use the scanners, I learn more.”
The products used
Artec Space Spider
Originally designed to be used on the International Space Station, as its name suggests, the Artec Space Spider is ideal for capturing small parts in high detail. Guaranteeing great metrological accuracy, this industrial scanner excels at scanning thin lines, sharp edges and complex geometries, making it ideal for everything from coins and keys to medical equipment, car parts and more.
Artec’s top-of-the-line 3D scanner, Eva, is light, fast, and versatile, and provides high-precision scans of medium-sized objects. It is perfect to be used as a stand-alone scanner, and can also be combined with other Artec scanners for broader, more inclusive scanning, with complete coverage of small parts and complex details.
“I struggled the first few hours figuring out how fast to move the scanners, how close to the target I had to be, and trying to remember how the software worked, but I got a couple of good processed scans from the first night. I scanned a bottle of pills and a clove of garlic,” Ashton said. “So I went to sleep satisfied with the investment.”
And the story was just getting started.
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