3D scanners in the automotive industry: 4 benefits and 4 successful projects



    In our material on the use of additive technologies in the automotive industry, we examined in detail their main advantages and potential for the Russian industry. And while the introduction of 3D printing is still fraught with certain difficulties (for example, the need for large investments and insufficient automation), then three-dimensional scanning is seen today as the most preferable and affordable 3D technology for the automotive industry.

    A 3D scanner is a device designed to quickly analyze a physical object and create its accurate 3D computer model. The principle of its operation is based on calculating the distance to the object using two cameras. In addition to cameras, backlighting is used - LED or laser. Both types of scanners are applicable in the automotive industry.

    3D scanners provide an opportunity to significantly reduce time and costs at the development stage, improve the quality of products and, ultimately, accelerate the launch of the product on the market. They can be used at any stage of the product life cycle management and will help optimize the production process for any enterprises in the industry - from large manufacturers of cars, engines, special equipment and components to small companies that perform tuning, maintenance and repair.

    3D Scanning Devicesallow you to remove many of the limitations that traditional measuring equipment has. Such instruments familiar to the metrologist as templates, micrometers, calipers are inexpensive, but differ in the subjectivity of the readings and are not suitable for complex measurements. Coordinate measuring machines are more accurate than 3D scanners, but they are more expensive, more dimensional and require special operator training.

    Optical control systems, which include 3D scanners, are the best solution in terms of price and quality, as they provide:

    1. speed of measurement ,
    2. high accuracy of digitizing objects of complex geometry ,
    3. can work autonomously,
    4. easy to operate.

    Thanks to the 3D scanner, the work of the designer, technologist, and designer is greatly facilitated: the implementation of laborious complex measurements and the creation of design from scratch are a thing of the past.

    In this article, we will demonstrate the benefits of this technology with specific examples, and in the video below you can track the process of 3D scanning in real time.

    What tasks does 3D scanning solve?




    1. Quality control : the ability to check any geometric parameters, including input and output control, metrological control of parts, housings and industrial equipment.
    2. Reverse engineering of automotive components for prompt receipt of design documentation and product modernization.
    3. Design and modeling for the purpose of auto-tuning, prototyping and assessment of the appearance of products, modernization of production shops and equipment.
    4. Digital archiving of any necessary assortment (for example, discontinued parts). Models stored in digital libraries are available remotely from anywhere in the world.

    Key Benefits of 3D Scanning for the Auto Industry


    1. Accuracy

      Certainly, accuracy is a fundamental criterion for metrology. 3D scanners allow efficient measurements with metrological accuracy from 20 to 80 microns (depending on the device and the size of the object).
    2. Speed

      Performance is productivity. 3D scanning takes measurement speed to a new level: the process of digitization and processing in software of a component such as a car door takes about 20 minutes instead of 4 hours of measurements on a CMM. You not only save time, but also reduce production costs.
    3. Reliability

      Modern professional and industrial 3D scanners are characterized by increased stability and reliability. Hand-held devices are designed for transportation to remote objects and can work in conditions of industrial vibration. All portable 3D scanners that iQB Technologies uses in their work regularly travel across Russia and neighboring countries without a single breakdown.
    4. Simplicity

      Working with a 3D scanner does not require skills, and for an inexperienced user to master the device - whether it is an OTK specialist, chief engineer, designer or technologist - it takes 20 minutes. Processing a point cloud requires knowledge of the software, and if the staff does not have an employee with CAD skills, you can send the scan result to outsource via the network.



    Ariel Atom Race Car Quality Control with Solutionix 3D Scanner

    Quality control in the automotive industry


    The main task of 3D scanning, which will help optimize automotive production, is to control the geometry in order to verify it with the reference model. You can control not only automotive components, but also molds and tooling, as well as perform tool wear analysis.

    The use of 3D scanners makes it possible to quickly track the marriage of parts coming from suppliers, and the availability of metrological certificates and verification methods to get a report on deviations from the declared geometry. If a marriage is found, it will be possible to find its cause, compare the scan with the reference CAD model and provide a report to the manufacturer or a third-party organization.



    The car factory performed measurements with the help of CMM at control points with obtaining information in the form of a numerical table.
    Operating time of the equipment and processing of results: 4 hours.
    The solution proposed by iQB Technologies:
    Creaform HandyScan 700 + 3D hand-held scanner + Geomagic Control X software.
    Preparation time for work, including calibration and label labeling - 7 minutes.
    The time to receive a scan of the car door (taking into account the work of the operator) is 5 minutes.
    Inspection analysis (comparison with the CAD model) - 10 minutes.
    Total time spent: 22 minutes.


    Automated control on the conveyor


    Automated scanning systems , including a 3D scanner, a robotic arm and software, can perform not only spot checks, but also control all products on the production line. As a result, a reduction in time and resources for quality control procedures and a significant reduction in the percentage of rejects.

    Creaform offers advanced automated quality control systems on the assembly line. This is MetraSCAN 3D-R, an optical 3D scanner mounted on a robot, and CUBE-R, a turnkey solution consisting of a turntable, a robotic arm with a scanner, a tracking device, and a control rack. Both systems are already operational at Daimler in Stuttgart and at the Renault-Nissan plants in France.

    Watch how MetraSCAN 3D-R allows you to get a scan of the car door with a report in just 2 minutes 27 seconds:


    Another similar solution, which has no analogues in Russia, was developed by our company. This is an automated scanning system, which includes a Fanuc LR Mate 200iD hand robot, a Creaform HandySCAN 700 portable 3D scanner, and Geomagic Control X software. The system was first demonstrated at the Metalworking 2018 exhibition.

    Reverse engineering


    The second important production task solved by the 3D scanner is reverse engineering, or reverse engineering. Using 3D scanning and specialized software, you can modify existing products without drawings, including models discontinued, and upgrade individual parts of the vehicle body to quickly bring the updated model to the market. For example, a scanner would be perfect for the release of the new Grants, developed on the basis of Kalina.

    In addition, reverse engineering performs the task of replacing production equipment due to obsolescence, depreciation or lack, as well as assessing the current and selecting the optimal placement of production equipment and utilities in the workshop.



    3D tractor scan for MX attachment development

    Here is an example of implementing 3D scanningin the French company MX, which produces loading equipment for agricultural tractors. Tractor manufacturers rarely share information about their new products, and getting CAD models of these tractors is even more difficult because they are intellectual property. However, for the development and production of attachments such as MX loading cranes, it is absolutely necessary to have 3D models. Therefore, the company has to perform 3D measurements of all tractors for which it wants to design and produce attachments, and until recently, these tasks were solved using 3D manipulators. Today, MX uses 3D scanning technology to digitize all areas needed for designing adaptable designs, including bracket attachment points and their surroundings.

    Creating CAD models and digital archives


    Obtaining design documentation and drawings manually takes a lot of time. Digital archiving and obtaining CAD-models of products is one of the opportunities that 3D-scanners open. You can take any part discontinued, quickly scan and get a 3D model for further reproduction and archiving. Digital libraries are very convenient to use: a designer or a technologist will get access to the necessary model at any time and anywhere and easily make corrections to it.

    If you have a digital model of the finished product, you can compare the result obtained after functional testing or crash test with the original product or with the reference CAD model. This will allow an analysis of damage and wear and make appropriate improvements to the design.

    By storing information about objects scanned at the production site, the company gets the opportunity to form a picture of its products, predict the future production cycle and reduce costs.


    Here is an example from my personal experience. I am fond of motorcycles and for my Ducati Monster I purchased at the eBay auction the long-discontinued rear suspension arm from the Ducati 888 model, which has less weight and a number of adjustments. The video above shows the part scan process, which took 10 minutes. The result is a polygon model in .stl format. From the model we get the sketch dimensions of the part and create a parametric CAD model in CAD. Then the control program for the CNC machines is written, which is transmitted to the turner-milling machine. As a result, we have a copy of the part, which ceased to be released 25 years ago, and its 3D model is stored in a digital archive.

    Toward Industry 4.0


    Our company conducted a study among more than 100 car manufacturers working in the Russian market. We found that 37% are using, and 32% are planning to implement 3D scanning. More and more automotive enterprises are thinking about introducing innovative technologies, including 3D scanners - this is primarily true of Russian car factories of foreign manufacturers. There is a clear understanding that without accelerating output, you cannot withstand competition. We can say that the domestic automobile industry follows the global trend of transition to digital production and is ready for change.

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