RavenWorks’ employees, hot-rod enthusiasts every one, saw a need in the market for replacement parts for vintage vehicles. To faithfully reproduce select in-demand “extinct” parts, they came to Laser Design for a duel-purpose high-accuracy 3D scanner.
RavenWorks in Maple Grove, MN, a company known for its automotive machining and testing business, is launching its own line of automotive parts. RavenWorks’ employees who are hot-rod enthusiasts saw a need in the market for replacement parts for vintage vehicles. They decided to carefully select and manufacture “extinct” parts for which there was a large demand amongst the hot-rod restoration community.
Many replacement parts are not always readily available these days to restore unique and vintage vehicles. These difficult-to-find parts may be expensive, and even if they can be found, they may be worn so much that their functionality comes into question. RavenWorks engineers decided to reverse engineer the parts they often needed in their rebuilding work to insure their quality. Once the new parts are made, they then need to inspect them to make sure they are geometrically correct and physically sound.
RavenWorks’ owner had heard of Laser Design, Inc. and 3D laser scanning through a vendor referral. He investigated further and realized that non-contact 3D laser scanning is ideal for both of these applications, reverse engineering and inspection. A complete measurement method, 3D laser scanning captures everything on the surface of an object, including free-form shapes and fine details so they can be accurately re-created and/or verified. Since laser scanning is a non-contact measuring method, it allows extremely consistent capturing of parts’ geometry by removing the human error factor.
RavenWorks purchased and installed a Laser Design SURVEYOR™ 3D dual-purpose scanning system with dual lasers, the SLP-250 for smaller parts and SLP-500 for mid-size to large parts. Company engineers attended training sessions on scanning with the SURVEYOR system and modeling the data with Geomagic Qualify software as their first step in becoming proficient in the laser scanning process.
The fully automated, CNC programmable Laser Design SURVEYOR system provides RavenWorks with its industry-best high accuracy (0.011mm) and high resolution (0.005mm), as well as its versatility and ease of use. The system includes a Renishaw PH-10 (CNC head indexer) and a 4th axis rotary stage for the most flexible 6-axis 3D scanning available. The dual system technology is capable of using a CMM touch probe as well for accuracies of up to .0025mm
Laser scanning technology works by projecting a line of laser light onto a surface while cameras continuously triangulate the changing distance and profile of the laser line as it sweeps along. The laser line passes back and forth over the area until the complete surface is captured. Irregular shapes are measured just as easily as prismatic ones, and they are instantaneously replicated digitally on-screen. The scanner measures very quickly, picking up tens of thousands of points per second, and generates huge numbers of data coordinates in a point cloud. If the object is large, several scans are made to capture the entire part and then the point cloud data files are rotated into the same reference frame and assembled into an exact 360-degree 3D model of the scanned part.
One of the first projects RavenWorks engineers performed with the Laser Design 3D laser scanning system was scanning the transmission shaft of a Ferrari for reverse engineering. A tooth was broken on a gear of the shaft and a suitable replacement part “was impossible to find,” according to the engineer in charge. By scanning the broken shaft, they were quickly able to recreate the missing geometry within the Geomagic software and model the virtually “repaired” part in SolidWorks. The CAD model was then fed directly into their CNC machine to produce the new part exactly. Being able to machine hard-to-find parts speeds up RavenWorks’ restoration process by keeping it in-house and by removing the search and shipping activities from the turnaround time.
The scan data of the transmission shaft worked seamlessly with the CNC to create a useable, accurate part which was eventually used in the Ferrari restoration.
RavenWorks has also scanned several other types of parts for individual production or short production runs such as valves for engines which have certain angles into the seat on the engine head; the scan data precisely records the angle from the valve, and from that, a tool is made to match up the components. Plans are in the works to create a valve stem library of scan data so that the CAD models can be reused, saving more of RavenWorks engineering time and resources.
The in-house SURVEYOR system will also eventually be used to inspect RavenWorks’ high-performance hand-made and machine-fabricated prototype parts with the 3D CAD models generated from the scan data. Being able to easily duplicate precision hand-crafted and performance parts with high accuracy for testing, replacement, and advanced design, plus inspect their product all with the high-accuracy high-speed Laser Design scanning system will save RavenWorks tremendous amounts of time and money. With 3D CAD models made directly from the physical parts, the labor intensive trial-and-error process of product development is no longer needed to deliver enhanced performance replacement parts to their hot rod and vintage vehicle restoration customers.