Friday, July 30, 2010

Case Study: Biodiesel University Mobile Lab

Promoting Energy Education in a Mobile Laboratory

Direct Dimensions traveled to a bus maintenance yard near Washington, DC to 3D laser scan a decommissioned city transit bus formerly owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The scan was performed for the Biodiesel University, a non-profit organization based in Olney, MD which seeks to educate students, teachers, and the public at large about renewable energy and environmental stewardship.

Dan Goodman, executive director of Biodiesel University, called upon Direct Dimensions to aid in converting the donated WMATA bus into a mobile educational lab, which Goodman has described as “part classroom, part hands-on science center, and part theme park ride.” The engineering challenge required cutting-edge capabilities from Direct Dimensions to not only scan the bus but also to create an accurate 3D CAD model so the bus can be repurposed for its educational mission. Given the current energy situation and attention to renewable energy, the project was captured on video for a featured story on ABC News.

To start the project, Direct Dimensions industrial designer Glenn Woodburn used the FARO LS long-range 3D scanner to take six scans of the bus’s interior and exterior in less than two hours. Each scan collected over 25 million 3D points providing a very high-resolution ‘point cloud.’

This captured raw data was then provided to Direct Dimensions designer Dan Haga, who created an accurate and detailed 3D CAD model reflecting the actual existing geometry of the bus.

Then using concept sketches and design input provided by Biodiesel University, Haga continued to layout and design the educational lab including the placement of the operational equipment that will eventually be installed in the bus when it is converted for its educational purpose

The final work, delivered in digital format to Biodiesel University, included several photorealistic graphical renderings and a 60-second animated 3D virtual tour of the overall mobile lab design.

By showcasing these materials digitally through its website and email, Biodiesel University can generate additional support for its program and mission. “The renderings and virtual tours present the concept for our mission in a very compelling manner. We’re grateful for the effort and enthusiasm that Direct Dimensions has shown for our project,” states Dan Goodman.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Betascape Recap

Thanks to everyone who braved the heat and took the time to come see us at Betascape. It was an amazing event and we are already looking forward to next year.

We took over 600 ShapeShots (3D snapshots) of Betascape attendees, including Governor O'Malley.

If you didn't get the chance to come out and have your ShapeShot taken, you can see ShapeShot in action in this news story about Betascape:

A special thanks to Heather Sarkissian and her team for their hard work organizing the whole event.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

ShapeShot at Betascape

Going to Artscape this weekend? Intrigued by the idea of seeing yourself, your kids or even your dog in 3D?

Then make sure to stop by our ShapeShot booth in the Betascape tent and have your ShapeShot (a 3D snapshot) taken.

Betascape, being held in conjunction with the Artscape festival, will showcase innovative and interactive technology from companies all based in the Baltimore area. Activities for the whole family will include powertool drag racing, a robot exhibit, an arcade and video game hall, and the opportunity to get a 3D ShapeShot of your face!

ShapeShot will be at Betascape July 16-18. The Betascape tent is located outside of the MICA Brown Center.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning Part 5

Chapter 5: Inspection/Analysis - Comparison to CAD

We are almost ready to move on to downstream applications for 3D models, but before we jump into that, we need to talk about one more application for scan data. Chapter Five will cover how this data can be utilized for quality inspection.

Important Terminology

CMM - Coordinate Measuring Machine, a mechanical device that obtains 3D coordinates by probing, may be either touch probe based or non-contact, portable or stationary, or motorized or manual.

Laser Tracker - sends a laser beam to locate a reflective target held against the object to be measured. The beam reflects back to the tracker and calculates the distance and angle of the targets location. Laser trackers are a great option when you need extreme accuracy over larger measurement ranges.

Color Map - a graphical display for visualizing dimensional differences between the measured shape of an object and its nominal CAD model; deviations are mapped to a color spectrum indicating location and magnitude. A reference key maps the deviations to values.

A History Lesson

While we think of the 3D scanning industry as something very new, the first 3D digitizers, Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs), were actually built in the 1960’s and the entire purpose of this development was to perform dimensional inspections. Fifty years later, inspections are still one of the most common uses for 3D digitizing and scanning systems.

In the late 1980s engineers at the then-Martin Marietta (including Direct Dimensions’ founder and president Michael Raphael) became aware of a company making articulating arms for medical measurements and they began working with the company (Faro Technologies) to develop a portable CMM for inspections in the aerospace industry. After the creation of the portable CMM, the options for 3D measurement and inspection exploded. Laser Scanners were added to the portable arms and then Laser Trackers were developed.

Twenty-five years later, portable scan arms are common measurement solution in major manufacturing firms across the world and in industries ranging from aerospace to automotive and power generation to medical.
Types of Inspections

There are many different types of inspections that can be done utilizing 3D technologies:

* One of the fastest and most informative types of inspections is the Dimensional Deviation, CAD to Part Inspection. A typical process for a Scan Arm, the scan data is compared to the original CAD model in a software package which will then show deviations by a color map.
* A variation of the Dimensional Deviation is the Virtual Assembly Analysis. By using reference points, such as interface datums, we have the capability to, in a virtual environment, simulate and identify how parts will fit together in their real-world assembly. We can do this by using assembly characteristics of the part (such as weld points, slots, and holes) to apply the mating constraints during assembly. This is also known as a “reference point fit” which can discreetly control part movement in any axis of each control point. The analysis can show part collision or spacing in a real world scenario done virtual.
* Parts can also be measured while they are in the process of being machined, an On-Machine Inspection allows for important characteristics to be measured and changes to be made while the piece or tool is still being created. These are typically done with either a Portable CMM with probe and scanner, or a laser tracker depending on the size of the object being machined.
* Similar to on-machine inspections, are real time inspections for Installation Alignment. This is helpful for installations of major equipment and is typically done with a laser tracker, PCMM, or similar.
* Perhaps the most comprehensive of the inspections is the First Article Inspection (FAI) which involves a thorough point to point inspection of a physical part against the production drawing dimensions. This is a very typical process for a portable CMM.

Getting Started

In the previous chapters, to get you going, we discussed the software products that we use literally every day here at Direct Dimensions. Below are the products that take the 3D measured data from the portable arms and scanners and perform the inspection analysis processes.

Each of them has some capabilities to perform the two main types of inspection – discreet point dimensional inspection and dense point cloud comparison analysis. Some have more comprehensive capabilities that include GD&T or special case analyses; and some specialize in certain areas such as ease of use or multi-scanner integration more than others.

At Direct Dimensions, we use all of these regularly and help our customer understand the strengths of each package relative to their specific application and company needs. If we are performing the project for someone as a service, they get the satisfaction of knowing we will use the best software for their inspection. Feel free to call us directly for more specifics on how these packages compare for your needs.

* CAM 2 Measure X (by Faro)
* Geomagic Qualify
* InnovMetric PolyWorks Inspector
* Rapidform XOV
* Verisurf

Now what can I do with my model?

Having learned what you can do with your data: inspect, reverse engineer or digitally model, we are now ready for the fun part! Chapter 6 will be an overview of the downstream applications for 3D models. The possibilities are numerous and we and our customers are thinking of new ideas every day.


Monday, July 12, 2010

CMSC 2010

If you are at CMSC this week, make sure to stop by booth 107 and say hello!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

3D Scanning Newsletter - July

July's newsletter includes the following highlights:

15 Great Projects Over the Past 15 Years:
In honor of our 15th anniversary this year, we picked out some of our favorite and most impressive projects. It wasn't easy to choose just 15 but we managed to pick out one incredible project per year.

Recreating the First Flight
For this story we looked back at one of our first major jobs - digitize and replicate the original 1903 Wright Brothers' Propeller for the 100th Anniversary of Flight.

15th Anniversary Slideshow
See the projects, people and events that have contributed to an amazing 15 years.