Aftermarket manufacturers are unable to fully take advantage of OEM CAD data because of the slight variations between the CAD data and the as-built part, especially for body panels.
Furthermore, automakers offer their own competitive in-house brands as an alternative to third-party companies, and hesitate to share CAD models with firms they see as competitors.
United Covers Inc., an aftermarket parts manufacturer, had invested in a touch probe system in order to obtain the surface data necessary for their line of custom fender trims. However, the amount of data the probe obtained was not sufficient to accurately represent the free-form shape of the fender. As their profit margin continued to shrink, UCI needed to find an affordable and reliable solution of measuring and manufacturing parts to fit within the tight tolerances their customers expected.
The solution came when UCI contracted
3DScanCo to find a solution for obtaining accurate CAD data for a
variety of vehicles. Because every car of the same model differs
slightly, 3D laser scanning offered an approach for capturing surface
data. 3DScanCo used the Konica Minolta VIVID 9i along with
photogrammetry to accurately scan the desired areas for a variety of
cars, including a Chrysler 300. The resulting scan data, accurate to
within 0.002 in., was reverse engineered into a CAD model using
industry standard software.
First, a the bumper of the Chrysler 300 is scanned.
Next, a CAD model of the bumper is prepared.
Then, a panel is produced and fitted to the bumper of the car.
UCI manufactured an exact-fit prototype using the CAD data supplied by 3DScanCo, which was hand-fit against the car to ensure a proper union. Furthermore, 3DScanCo performed quality inspection on the two parts and generated a colormap comparison report, which visually confirmed the prototype part fit to the required tolerances.
This reverse engineering approach provided the ideal solution for UCI – an affordable and accurate method of obtaining surface data to use for manufacturing aftermarket parts. UCI has since been able to leverage cutting-edge 3D scanning technologies to generate prototype replacement parts, which are then transformed into a final product. 3DScanCo has been partnered with UCI since 2006, enabling them to go direct to production with many new designs, bringing their offerings to over 130 factory-style and 300 custom-style applications of aftermarket parts.