3D Scanning For Boats – From Handmade to CAD

You may be wondering, what are the benefits of 3D scanning for boats? 

Boats are famously made by hand, layer by layer, with sheets of fiberglass and resin. It is timely and uses an excess of material.

Modernizing the production phase of a project is a big feat for many companies. In order to recreate an existing design, the boat must be reverse engineered.

However investing into reverse engineering a boat means a company can move away from handmade manufacturing. For projects of this size, 3D scanning for boats needs a team who specializes in both engineering and scanning.

At Tangent Solutions, our team enjoys the opportunity to work with clients on large projects, especially when their goals are to lower their production times.

Eliminator Boats is a well known brand in the boating industry. This boat manufacturer proudly displays their beautiful craftsmanship on a full line of performance boats and has been in business for over 50 years

The Challenge of 3D Scanning for Boats

Although the ability to create a handcrafted boat hull is an undeniable achievement, it is an extremely slow process. It also does not allow for repeatability which can lead to costly errors as other components are added to the watercraft.

This client was looking to perform reverse engineering services in order to have saved CAD files that could be modified. 

CAD files after 3D scanning for boats would allow their design engineers to create components and accessories that would fit, guaranteed.

The Solution 

Reverse engineering a boat hull requires mobile 3D scanning services. For this project, a no-touch policy was needed to protect the freshly made boat hull. The client needed CAD files that match the handmade nature of the boat so accessories could be built digitally and constructed correctly in reality.

After discussing the project goals with the client, our team dispatched two technicians to prep and scan the boat hull. The scan data would then be reverse engineered to produce full CAD files in STEP format.

The scanning process was completed in one business day. Modeling the performance boat was done in our office and delivered to the client shortly after scanning was completed. 

The Process of 3D Scanning For Boats

Our technicians scanned a freshly minted, handmade hull for a prototype model for the client. 3D scanning for boats that are newly fiberglassed means special care is needed while working around the prototype.

The boat was coated in a special wax which required our technicians to remove any hard surfaces from their clothing (belts, watches, and zippers) in order to guarantee that the mold was not disturbed.

Our 3D laser scanning technology has non-invasive lasers and we chose to make use of our low adhesive targets, so as to not leave any residue.

Our team has various adhesives to choose from based on the conditions of the 3D scanning surface. Laser scanning a boat of this size does require hundreds of targets to be applied.

These targets are what the lasers bounce off of and back to the laser scanner, creating the mesh instantly in the software; a process called triangulation. 

With a team of two technicians and soft clothing, the 3D scanning process was completed without disturbing the fragile integrity of the newly minted boat hull.

Scan data was then returned to our office to post process which includes clean up, orientation on XYZ planes, and delivered to our CAD engineers to start reverse engineering. 

Reverse Engineering A Boat 

After 3D laser scanning is completed, the reverse engineering process requires our design engineers to redraw the boat based on the scan data. Modeling software is used to comprehend the data and create CAD files. For this client, STEP files would be delivered.

Based on the handmade nature of the boat hull, 3D scanning a boat of this kind would mean scan data would represent the small intricacies and nuances that come from making things by hand.

CAD modeling would not be able to be symmetrical but that was the goal for this client.

Symmetry would mean that other components would possibly not fit. For other projects, our team usually has the ability to build and mirror the existing side to create the CAD file; decreasing modeling time.

Although more timely, our design engineers were able to model the boat according to the client’s needs. 

Project Review

Keeping the beautiful, handmade integrity of this new prototype was key to the success of this project.

We take the advantage in the ability to review the project quickly with use of screen sharing over video conferencing. This technology allows us to have clients throughout the United States and abroad.

For Eliminator Boats, the client was provided updates and photos as the work progressed in reverse engineering a boat.

After CAD files were created, scan data was imposed over to show how accurate they were in comparison to the original scan.

This type of accuracy sets us apart from other 3D scanning providers.

The client was ecstatic on the file delivery. They now had the confidence to start building around their newest performance boat prototype. This allowed for them to come to market faster, just in time for boating season. 

Our team at Tangent Solutions continued the relationship with Eliminator by also 3D scanning a boat design that would increase the performance of an existing model, shortly after this project was completed.

3D scanning for boats prototypes would now be a staple to their research and development process, decreasing their production time.

With the ability to keep the handmade integrity, Eliminator Boat’s CAD files and designs continue to uphold the quality that their company is known for, with the help of our 3D scanning services. 

Sean Kepler

Sean is lead engineer with his previous career stemming from mechanical engineering, automotive dynamics, and aerospace. Pulling from real-world experience, he has over 15 years of experience as a designer and in fabrication. Before creating Tangent Solutions, Sean was the lead designer for many winning off-road race teams as well as mass-market production companies

About Tangent Solutions

Tangent Solutions offers the latest in 3D scanning technology paired with 15 years of CAD design experience, to bring your ideas to reality. Our team specializes in reverse engineering, manufacturing, and data verification. 

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17845 Sky Park Circle Suite E Irvine, CA 92614