Cadillac Elmiraj concept created in less than a week using 3D scanning
The stunning new Cadillac Elmiraj coupe concept made its first public appearance in Monterey in August. Cadillac states that the Elmiraj concept showcases the next step forward for the brand's Art & Science design DNA, but how did this gorgeous Elmiraj concept go from clay to a digital model, and back to the hands of a craftsman again? Turns out, the Elmiraj was formed by using structured-light 3D scanning.The car designers start with making a clay model from concept sketches. 3D scanners project a light pattern onto the scale model surface while a camera looks for distortions that represent curves or contours, and records where the object is in space and its orientation. Each scan is digitally stitched together until the complete vehicle is captured.
Mike Nolan of General Motors' Design Fabrications Operations uses a blue light scanner to capture s 3-D image of the Cadillac Elmiraj.
"With the Elmiraj, we were able to use 3D scanning as the bridge between traditional hand-sculpting teams who work in clay and digital modeling design teams who work in math," said Frank Saucedo, director of General Motors' North Hollywood Advanced Design Studio. "Our ability to scan the clay model with speed and precision and go from the digital tools to the hands of a craftsman and vice versa was extremely valuable."
Math models serve as the basis for computer-controlled milling and hand-modeling in clay. 3D scanners allow designers to quickly reverse-engineer and update previous design at any time. That data can be uploaded into a computer-controlled milling machine to create a full-scale model. A portion of the vehicle can be transferred to a 3D printer for a rapid prototype part.
GM has used 3D scanning since 2001, more on clay interior and exterior properties than drivable concept cars. Elmiraj is an exception. GM's Design Center Fabrication Shops in Warren, Mich. and Advanced Design Studio in California used 3-D scanning to validate nearly every pattern, mold and part.
"Thanks in part to 3D scanning, we can translate surface from a scale model to a full-size model in less than one week now," said Bill Mattana, senior manager of global surface creation at GM's Warren Design Center. "Not only is Elmiraj a stunningly beautiful concept car, it served as a tremendous opportunity for extending our use of 3-D scanning."