How is 3D scanning used in the automotive industry? Read our guide to find out how auto repair and tuning shops can use the technology to improve their services and bottomline.
Today, many people own cars. And, of course, like any complex machine, cars require timely maintenance and repair.
There are dozens of car repair shops in every city. The shops compete with each other, trying to attract customers in different ways, such as low prices, great customer service, discounts, etc. However, the simplest and most effective way to get more customers is to improve the quality of service without increasing price.
How can this be achieved?
By keep up with the times, using modern technologies and machines, such as an automotive 3D scanner.
In recent years, automotive 3D scanners have become increasingly popular among professionals engaged in auto repair and tuning. With a 3D scanner, you can get accurate measurements and also simulate the changes you want in your car.
Simulation is especially interesting, since it allows you to immediately see a future result without waiting for the work to be done. Auto 3D scanning also enables customers to evaluate the tuning option offered in a car workshop and choose the appropriate one. Thanks to 3D scanning, expectation and reality can be more similar than ever before.
How is a 3D Scanner Used in Auto Repair?
All car parts wear out over time and will need to be replaced. For the best performance, you want to use an original spare part. However, sometimes you cannot find OEM parts and have to go with what you find. You may also find it challenging to get a spare of a car model that is no longer in production.
Fortunately, 3D technologies can easily solve the above problems, and in a fairly short time. How does this happen? Simple: the damaged part is scanned, the data obtained is processed in a special program, a 3D model is built and sent for 3D printing.
After a few hours, an exact copy of the desired part will be produced. The material used for the part may be different. Generally, most 3D printers use a type of plastic. However, there are also those that can be used to create products from metal and its alloys with various polymers. Such printers are, however, mainly used for industrial purposes.
Nevertheless, if you have a ready-made layout, you can 3D print it, and then order its creation on a CNC machine in a third-party organization of a similar profile.
An automotive 3D scanner that takes all measurements and designs a 3D model based on them. The software can also correct the design, if necessary, to eliminate roughness and any defects of the object. A 3D printed car part will fit 100%, since the data is accurate and detailed.
In the past, such levels of quality could only be obtained by large companies with high-tech equipment and specialists capable of working with it. Today, the quality is available to almost, anyone but at a much lower fee. Special software greatly simplifies the process, allowing even amateurs to quickly figure out everything.
Car Tuning With and Without a 3D Scanner
Everyone wants to improve the appearance of their car. Moreover, changing the car from “basic settings” is necessary for practical reasons. This is why car owners are always tuning their cars. auto tuning will always be in deserved demand among car owners. While auto tuning is traditionally expensive, 3D scanning technology makes things much easier.
Thanks to 3D scanning, there is no need for “manual” fittings, or “casts” made of fiberglass, plasticine and the like. An automotive 3D scanner allows you to quickly digitize a car and select the appropriate tuning options, taking into account all the client’s preferences. A visual demonstration enables the car owner quickly see how the car will end up being like after tuning.
After 3D scanning, the next process is 3D printing the scanned parts.
In the past, it could take weeks to discuss, develop and prepare and complete a tuning job. Today, this can be done in a matter of hours. Having an exact digital copy of a car makes it easier and faster to create parts.
Moreover, 3D scanning is also cheaper, since no consumables are required for it. This saves time and money for both customers and auto repairmen. On the same note, the quality of services significantly improves.
Apart from external transformations, you can also modernize the interior of the car. You can use a 3D scanner to restore almost any object accurately and detailed. You can then virtually install the objects or parts on the vehicle to see how they will look like.
Design is an important part of the auto-tuning process, and a lot depends on its implementation. Even small errors can significantly affect the outcome, e.g., reduced aerodynamic properties, etc. 3D scanning provides accurate data, which greatly simplifies the task. Therefore, the advantages of 3D scanning in auto tuning are obvious.
How to 3D Scan a Car
How does a 3D scanner take data?
Before we answer this, it is worth clarifying that not every surface can be scanned without problems. For example, reflective and very dark coatings are difficult to scan. Therefore, as a rule, they are pre-matted, i.e., covered with a special washable paint.
Also, if the car has a very smooth body, this can complicate the scanning process. To counter this, markers have to be applied to the car. The 3D scanner beam “attaches” to the markers.
It is better to carry out 3D scanning of a car indoors after applying special markers on the object
Lighting will affect the results you’ll get. For example, too bright daylight will reduce the performance of the scanner (especially the optical). To avoid complications, carry out the procedure indoors.
Cars are usually scanned and digitized using handheld 3D scanners. The scanner is moved slowly around the object. If you choose to use a stationary scanner, you will have to take several dozen frames of the object, and this can be quite time consuming.
3D Scanning the Car Interior
In the process of scanning, data is collected and used to build a model of the object in a scanning software. The resulting 3D image can then be converted into CAD-format and further tuned. However, the finished polygonal model can be printed on a 3D printer, without additional processing.
Before starting scanning, the 3D scanner should be calibrated to avoid errors. The calibration does not take a lot of time.
An example of a 3D scan of a car:
In general, preparation and scanning can take from several hours to one working day, depending on the size of the object and the amount of work to be done. For example, will you be scanning only the outer surfaces of the car, or all surfaces, including the interior and contents under the hood?
For the best scanning result, all hollow surfaces of the front panel of the car are sealed with special adhesive tape with marks
A 3D scanner allows you to digitize almost any part of a car – from large to smallest details. Thanks to this, new spare part can be made easily. You can also add new parts to the car. For such purposes, you will need to use either a 3D printer or CNC machines.
Digitization of the external car part
With a 3D printer, you can print various small plastic components, for example, plugs, caps, etc. In some cases, parts of larger parts, such as body kits, can also made on a 3D printer. The parts will then have to be primed and painted.
To make the parts strong, they can be covered with fiberglass. However, there are still size limitations: the printable area of a standard 3D printer is not so large.
The second option is to send a 3D model processed in a CAD program to a CNC machine. You can easily make any changes on the 3D model in the CAD program. Therefore, you can make both spare parts and different templates of parts that can be used for cars of the same brand. This is beneficial for professionals engaged in auto-tuning.
Best 3D Scanners for Automotive Tuning and Repair
3D scanning can be performed using various scanners. Below are some that we recommend for auto repair shops.
RangeVision Pro 5M
RangeVision Pro 5M
The Rangevision Pro 5M from Russia is intended for professional use and has a wide functionality. The device scans using structured illumination technology.
To use the scanner, mount it on a tripod, calibrate and begin to scan.
- Full HD projector and 6 MP camera that can scan large-sized objects (up to 3 meters)
- High scanning accuracy
- Maximum detail (resolution)
- Speed (9 seconds per 1 photo scan)
- Comes in a complete set (including 2 cameras, a set of lenses and calibration panels, a tripod, markers for gluing)
- affordable price.
When moving, the scanner has to be calibrated. This can take up to 10 minutes. However, given its coverage range, calibration will have to be done only a few times per session.
Overall, RangeVision Pro 5M is easy to use. You can change its cameras and resolutions to get the best scan results.
Shining Einscan Pro 2X 2020
Shining Einscan Pro 2X 2020
This is a portable 3D scanner that incorporates all the best from its predecessors from the same series. The scanner stands out for its fast speed of scanning and data processing. The new generation of handheld scanners are very powerful.
- High scanning accuracy, especially when using markers (up to 0.045 mm + 0.3 mm / m)
- Can capture the smallest details even in manual mode;
- Fast scanning speed (30 pictures per second) and data transfer (USB 3.0);
- Light and compact
- Used in various ways, e.g., in a fixed state, on a turntable and without a turntable
- Several alignment modes, which allow you to digitize anything at high quality;
- Modern software with a large number of formats, and is compatible with various CAD/CAM programs
- Ability to install additional modules (including – for color, static and automatic scanning).
If you need an easy-to-use 3D scanner that can capture both small and large objects well without losing quality, then the Shining Einscan Pro 2X 2020 is perfect.
Thord3D is a wireless 3D scanner that we love for various reasons.
i) The scanner offers high resolution accuracy thanks to its modern high-sensitivity cameras and 3D sensors.
ii) Uses modern data processing algorithms, which greatly facilitate scanning and allow even large enough objects to be digitized in a short time.
iii) Has a touchscreen display with a very clear menu that even a beginner can understand.
iv) It is compact (1.8 kg) and easy to use. You can use it almost anywhere; at height, on the water, outdoors and indoors.
v) Can scan both the smallest and the largest (up to 1.5 m) objects with equal accuracy. Therefore, it is often used not only in auto repair shops, but also in design studios for digitizing art objects, during construction, etc.
This 3D scanner copes well with all the tasks you’ll need when scanning a car.
RangeVision Spectrum 3D Scanner
RangeVision Spectrum 3D Scanner
The RangeVision Spectrum is one of the best 3D scanners that is sold at an affordable price. The scanner is powered by structured lighting technology.
With this scanner, you can create 3D objects at very high resolution. The scans can be used in CAD/CAM applications or immediately 3D printed. This is possible thanks to the 3.1 MP camera, which allows you to obtain detailed color images.
Included with the RangeVision Spectrum is a free software, which is quite simple to understand. Through the software, you can edit scans e.g., sew fragments, change the data to fill in the voids on the subject, sensitivity etc. The software is constantly updated, providing customers with a good experience.
This 3D scanner is perfect for working with a car since it has 3 scanning modes and can digitize anything – from the smallest 1cm details to large 3m details.
Despite its rather compact dimensions (weighing only 1.65 kg), it performs its task very well. The device scans objects of any complexity (both in geometry and in surface texture).
The scanner can be mounted on a tripod or a turntable (included in the kit). The calibration time is only 7 minutes and scanning speed is 12 seconds per 1 image.
RangeVision Spectrum stands out for its high scanning accuracy, lightness and a high degree of technical equipment. This is the best scanner in its line in terms of price-quality ratio.
The basic package includes software, a set of cameras and calibration panels, and even a turntable. This explains why the RangeVision Spectrum is so popular.
Progressive Approach to Auto Tuning and Repair Issues
3D scanning is an efficient and modern way of working. If you are not sure whether a 3D scanner will be right for your auto shop, put together a business plan and see how your costs will reduce. Moreover, with an automotive 3D scanner, you will improve the quality and efficiency of your services.
Buying a 3D scanner is beneficial for an auto repair shop in the following ways:
- Save time. The scanner can do everything in a matter of hours, instead of weeks as is the case with traditional auto tuning
- Improve the quality of your work. The work will not have to be redone later since the scanner transmits detailed data
- Save money not only by reducing the cost of materials that were previously used for “taking measurements”, but also by speeding up the whole process
- Expand the possibilities for tuning, creating any desired changes in a short time (for example, modeling anatomical seats in the salon or changing the geometry of the wings) and visually demonstrating them to the client
- You can use the resulting 3D model as many times as you like for cars of the same make and model
- Allow customers to get exactly what they want. You can look at the 3D project right away and evaluate future changes or make appropriate adjustments if necessary.
If you want to do unique things at your auto repair shop that would attract more customers, use modern technology such as automotive 3D scanning. Check the video below for an example.