Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tailor Made Utility

In working with the data obtained from scanning the transmission, we have discovered several ways to tailor the output from the ZCorp Scanner and the RapidForm XOR software to suit our needs in building our prototype. One of them is shown below.

The scanner did an excellent job picking up the detail of the transmission, which in a perfect world, we'd like to retain. The software is very capable of doing this. However, based on our time line, and what we need to do with the scanned data (represent the spatial constraints of the OEM parts and mating them to the chassis/other components) it isn't necessary to use every detail of the scanned data in the transfer to a SolidWorks model. What I discovered we can do to represent the scanned data in a usable format and still represent the model as a solid recognizable by SolidWorks and able to be mated to other components is to capture the main features we need as a parametric solid with data that can be referenced and further edited (if necessary), and also represent the geometry as a surface all in one part.

What this means is that we can turn the surface data and solid data on and off as needed without having to load two separate models into SolidWorks and toggle between the two of them and then have to figure out where the differences lie. This will be especially useful in areas where parts may have limited space between them and although the solid we create based on the scan may not capture all of the detail, we can turn the surface data - which is a direct representation of what the scanner picked up - on and off to check clearance. Using this method, we can create the bare minimum amount of data we need to load the part in SolidWorks and mate it to other parts, and represent the rest with a feature in RapidForm called "Auto Surface," which quickly models the regions as a surface model. Although it isn't always a clean surface (this depends on how much time you spend cleaning holes and imperfections in the scanned data), it usually does a good enough job to represent the outer extents of the parts, which is the main thing we need to have.

As we use the software more and more we will continue to find these types of attributes and how to tailor them to our needs to quickly and effectively develop prototypes.

Here is the transmission in RapidForm. The colored areas are the regions of the scanned data, and the gray, smooth area in the main body of the case is a solid made from a cross section of the case as per the scanned data.


Here it is in SolidWorks with the solid and the surface data shown at the same time. As you can see, the solid data provides a quick way to represent the general shape of the transmission and allows you to mate it to the engine, drive shaft etc. while the surface data can be used as a check to make sure the finer details of the transmission (which would take a fair amount of time to create) do not conflict with any parts that may be located near the transmission.

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