Art and Science of Car Design Merged by 3D Scanning

3D scanning is an advanced measuring technology that is frequently used for the reproduction and restoration of fine art. Now it has helped Cadillac, create a concept car that can be considered a “work of art.”


The Elmiraj concept car appeared at the Los Angeles International Auto Show until December 1, 2013. 3D scanning played an important role in the creation of this concept car.

An update to the classic two-door grand coupe, the Elmiraj was created through the extensive use of digital mapping technology. 3D scanning was used as the bridge between digital modeling teams that utilize math and hand-sculpting teams who work in clay modeling. The clay model was scanned with precision and speed, and then it was converted into data that was interpreted by the digital modeling team so that the specifications of the design could be created and duplicated.

Basically, the way it works is this: projected light patterns are used by the scanner and an advanced camera captures the 3D shapes so they can be translated into math data. This math data is then manipulated into digital modeling programs that are used to make full-size models.

This is an example of how 3-dimensional scanning has played an important role in car design. It usually starts with a 2D image that is turned into a 3D mathematical rendering. These math models are the basis for the clay hand modeling and the milling that is controlled by computer. The 3D images then allow for reverse engineering and the master math model is updated. Any changes that are made to the math model are then updated in the physical model through milling the clay.

GM is a company that has been notorious for using this technology. In fact, they have been doing so since 2001. They are able to record every change in design with extreme accuracy. A single scan can reveal when there is a need to take a step back and fix something that may be wrong. This allows the car manufacturers to work faster and achieve perfection much easier.

GM alone executes thousands upon thousands of scans annually to troubleshoot part irregularities and to achieve competitive benchmarking.

Overall, 3D scanning enables car manufactures to translate surface from a scale model so a full0size model can be created. Because of this digital mapping technology, this is a process that is completed in less than a week. For Cadillac, it helped create a beautiful concept car.

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