How To Scan 3D Car Parts (And Why You’d Want To)

If you have ever built a car, you know that having parts you could make with a 3D scanner would be beneficial in many different ways. Whether it is because ordering some parts of a car takes too long or that 3D scanning may save you some money, a three-dimensional scanner for parts of a car is something many people are interested in.

3D-scanning in cars is most useful when an old-timer or classic car needs a spare part that is not produced anymore and cannot be found.

You might be interested in scanning 3D car parts but have no idea where to begin. There also might be some reservations about scanning these parts. If either one of these situations is the case, keep reading this article to find out how to scan 3D car parts and why you would want to.

How 3D Car Parts Are Scanned

There are various steps and directions when it comes to scanning 3D car parts. Be sure that you are looking at the necessary steps so that everything goes according to plan. After all, the parts likely need to be functional, so being careful is key. As you are reading through this guide on how to scan 3D car parts, remember that this is a trial and error process. The more you practice scanning these parts, the easier it will become.

Find A 3D Scanner

Before any other step can take place, you will need to do some research on what kind of 3D scanner you would like to use to scan car parts. You will want to make sure that you find a scanner that will be able to scan the particular car parts.

There are many options when choosing what 3D scanner brand you would like to use. No matter which scanner you choose, it is crucial that you ensure it will be able to scan exactly what it needs to. If you do not have the right one, then there is a great chance of important details being missed. If you want your car part to look and work correctly, it might be in your best interest to buy a scanner that is a bit more on the expensive side.

Alternatively, you can go for a 3D-scanner rental service. This might save you quite a lot of money and depending on the service, you may even get a professional recommendation about which scanner to use.

Scan Your Car Part

After you figure out what type of scanner you would like to use, the next step is actually using it.

Before you begin scanning anything, keep in mind that it will be helpful to spray your particular object with a matte-finished type of powder. Doing this is vital because if you scan an item that is shiny or waxy, the results will not be accurate.

Be sure to line up the 3D scanner according to what you would like to scan first. Double-check that you are in the correct place, and then press the scanning button.

As your car part is in the process of getting scanned, it is essential to pay attention as it is happening. The car piece may need to be rotated so that deep crevices or intricate details will not be missed or looked over. The part of the car also needs to be standing up if possible, with plenty of room to move around the part and scan every angle.

Scanning Programs

After your 3D scanner has finished scanning your car part, it is now time to transfer the scan you just made to a program. The program will be an important part since it will convert the scanned data into a 3D model you can work with. Among other things, the software will merge, reformat and straighten out your scanned part, if any details have gotten deformed.

You might be unsure of the types of software that you can use after 3D scanning a part of your car. If you are not familiar with this type of software, these are a few popular programs:

  • MeshLab
  • Meshmixer
  • Tinkercad
  • Fusion 360

Note that new software tools appear all the time, so we recommend you make a thorough search if you are not familiar with any of them yet.

Time To Print

Now that your car part has been scanned in and converted into a 3D model, it is time to use a 3D printer to receive your finished car product. If you have scanned everything correctly and formatted it appropriately, your printed product should come out nearly identical to what you originally scanned.

If there are a few mistakes, remember that 3D scanning and printing is an art form. Even though it is frustrating when something does not turn out how you would like it to, it will take time for it to look perfect.

Why You Would Want To Scan 3D Car Parts

The cost of car parts can add up pretty quickly, which is especially true if you are working on an older car or a very expensive car. Not only do car parts become expensive, but certain pieces can be increasingly harder to find as the years move forward.

Most people recognize the reasons above and have been searching for another way to receive parts to a car without the extra hassle. If you find yourself in this position too, check out these next few points that explain the benefits of using 3D scanning for car parts.

Simple To Use

Nothing is worse than having an awesome tool or gadget but realize it is harder to work than you thought. It is heartbreaking to have all the right equipment, but the equipment is not user friendly. Thankfully with 3D scanners, they are usually easy to work with.

If you are struggling with learning how to work your 3D scanner and the software that comes with it, you are not alone. People realize that certain aspects of this newer technology can be difficult for some. Because of this, there are excellent tutorials on Youtube and blog websites that can assist you in whatever area it is needed.

Having confidence in yourself and your ability is also one of the main key aspects in getting a successful 3D scan of car parts. When you believe that you will do well, you have a greater chance of doing so.

It Is A Time Saver

One thing that most people on this planet wish they had more of is time. So much of a person’s time is spent doing daily tasks, going to work, and making ends meet. Due to this, there is not much time to do important things such as eat or sleep. The designers of 3D scanners realized this and helped people save as much of their time as possible.

The speed of a 3D scanner also depends heavily on the brand of scanner that you purchase. The better the brand, the faster the scanning process goes. It is important to keep in mind that the better brand usually has a higher price tag attached to it. It is up to you to determine if saving time or saving money is more beneficial in the long run.

You Can Save Money

Upfront, you might not be as happy with how much you are paying for a 3D scanner. There are some that go for a little under $300, while others can sell for as high as $40,000. It may seem absurd to pay such a high price for a new device, but it is important to think about how much you will be putting your 3D scanner to work.

When you use a 3D scanner and eventually a 3D printer for car parts, you are saving and even making money by:

  • Reducing the amount of manual labor.
  • Limiting the amount of money that will be spent while your car part is being shipped.
  • Ensuring that you will not have to spend money sending back parts due to the 3D scanner being so precise.
  • Being able to comfortably sell a car part for a higher price than what you scanned and printed it for with a 3D scanner and printer.

If you scan 3D car parts regularly, you will probably find it worth your time to buy a 3D scanner on the higher end of the price scale. Doing this gives your scanner a lesser chance of malfunctioning. If you plan on selling the car parts that you scan, you will more than likely make your money back if you have a loyal customer base.

You will also be able to save money by scanning your own items instead of purchasing them from a store or factory if you only want to scan parts for your own car. Shipping is not cheap, and neither is the work that goes into making parts of a car. If you use a 3D scanner, you are not paying for the labor or shipping.

3D Scanners Are Extremely Accurate

Once you learn how to use your 3D scanner so that you can scan car parts, you will be happy to know that whatever you scan will basically be an exact replica of the real item.

When you do not use a 3D scanner, and you are just looking for the car part by name, there is a chance it will not fit. With 3D scanning, that problem is usually solved as 3D scanners are extremely accurate.

If the car part you want to have does not fit after finding a part at the store or online, you will have to make extra trips or pay extra shipping fees. 3D scanning prevents that from happening as often and is much more convenient for you because of this reason.

You Are Able To Carry It Around

Another wonderful thing about 3D scanners is that many of them can be carried around to different locations around the world. Instead of standing in one place, you can grab it and scan things as you are moving from one area to the next.

Even though scanning parts of a car may not always require a 3D scanner that can move, it is very nice to have that option. It will save you a lot of time and effort putting things the exact way you need them. And, if you are scanning car parts in a few locations, you do not have to worry about taking the part back to the scanner’s location.

Limitless Objects To Scan

When you have a 3D scanner, especially with a high-quality and moveable one, your options for different car parts to scan are truly limitless. It does not matter if you want to scan a new part from a Tesla or one from the Model A Ford. A 3D scanner makes this process possible.

The idea of being able to scan something from many decades ago is also an exciting one to think about. With this concept, you can get an almost identical replication of what some of the earliest car parts looked like. This creates endless possibilities for the future, even potentially bringing back some of the past.

Common Questions About 3D Scanning Car Parts

The concept of 3D scanning and printing is new to many people, and it is okay if you have some questions. Hopefully, you will be able to find the answer below to any question that you may have.
Will the item I am scanning be harmed?
  • 3D scanners use lasers that will not harm your product in any shape, form, or fashion.
Are some car parts too big to scan?
  • Almost any car part can be scanned as long as you are using the right 3D scanner. It is important to do research before buying one, so you know which scanner size will suit you best.
Is it possible to scan car parts that are broken?
  • It is possible, especially if there is an example of a non-damaged car part to follow when importing the scan to CAD software.

Things To Consider When Using A 3D Scanner For Car Parts

As mentioned above, there are a wide variety of benefits when it comes to 3D scanning for car parts. Even though most people will want to use a 3D scanner when they hear of the many advantages it has to offer, there are a few things that you need to consider before or while you are putting the scanner into action.

When you are using a 3D scanner for car parts, you should consider that:

  • You will not be the only person with this idea. Other people have similar companies and jobs that will be competing against you and your brand. Know who you are up against.
  • Before long, the 3D scanning process might be able to be done on your cell phone. Although this may not mean much to you now, if you are considering scanning things for the future but do not want to spend a large amount of money, you might be in luck.
  • Speaking of money, you need to prepare yourself to spend quite a bit if you would like quality designs and products. If you do not invest in a 3D scanner that is high in price, you are ultimately not investing in your business.
  • The process is pretty precise, but of course, it has a small amount of room for error to happen. This can be especially frustrating if you realize it was human error, but remember that it is a learning process.
  • Even though the learning curve to CAD software may not be extremely difficult, it is a learning curve. It is easy to lose patience when learning something as intricate as this.

Overall, using a 3D scanner has many benefits but also some drawbacks. It is important to have an idea of what may happen while or after you are scanning the car parts so that nothing will catch you off guard. If you are prepared for the possibilities, then you will not be let down in case anything unexpected happens.

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