Several times in the past we’ve discussed the idea of Fab labs where someone builds a solid object from a CAD file on a computer, 3D printers build up the digital bits into the real world piece. There are also companies who recreate old pieces for restoration and once they’ve made a piece, they can build many more for anyone else that needs one. If the file is in a computer, you’ve got the hard part done but how do you get those measurements into the computer in the first place?
The military has a lot of equipment still being used that was built long before many of the soldiers using it were even born. No digital information exists but that gear needs to be repaired and kept in operation. In order to reverse engineer necessary parts, NVision has created a laser scanner for use in creating surface maps which are then entered into the computer and can be used as the basis for making molds or doing whatever else they need to turn out new copies of these old parts. Instead of measuring with all sorts of manual measuring tools and getting limited information, the lasers can capture an immense number of surface points which makes for a much more accurate reproduction or a much better starting point before final tweaking.
They use this same technology for another motorcycle oriented use which is computational fluid dynamics where motorcycle racing teams need the CAD data to build surface models for use in the computer instead of using wind tunnels. They can make small changes and test the result immediately without having to build the actual part and test it in a tunnel. Makes for much faster design work. These surface maps provide the data for teams when the manuafacturers won’t supply it for various reasons.
Think of the possibilities. As I mentioned in my earlier post on perpetual motorcycles, things never need to go out of production. If you have the necessary tooling, you can keep building products on demand for as long as you want, whenever you want. Many of us like the really old bikes and equipment like this raises the possibility of always being able to make spares. Neat.
via Defense Tech