Once upon a time, engineers like those at Pratt & Miller were forced to do their measurements with hand tools like gauges, calipers and micrometers. Not only was this difficult and time consuming, it could more easily lead to errors due to human error.
Now Pratt & Miller, builders of the Corvette C7.R (among other Corvette Racing machines) and Cadillac ATS-V.R, has access to electronic measuring machines, like the ScanArm, a handheld laser scanner with both hard and laser-line measuring probes. The machine allows engineers to measure prismatic parts with the hard probe and also scan larger sections with the laser as opposed to measuring by hand, lightening the work load and delivering a better end product.
“Once you get something like this, you can’t see how you did without it,” said Gary Pratt, co-founder of Pratt & Miller. “We use it to design, construct and analyze virtual components, computational fluid dynamics systems and complete cars. [It helps] every facet of a project, from initial conception to the finished product.”
Gary Latham, a lead engineer at Pratt & Miller, noted the ScanArm helps the team save time when working with deadlines.
“[ScanArm] is incredibly useful with our tight timeframes,” Latham said. “About 30 to 40 percent of our parts are manufactured in the workshop, and they need to be entered into CAD. Now we do that easily with faster data capture.”
The ScanArm is mainly used by Pratt & Miller to reverse engineer especially complex parts. The scanner traces the part and turns it into a digital computer model, allowing for “rapid prototyping and 3D modeling,” ScanArm creator Faro Technologies says.