3D scanners, also known as Optical Measurement Machines, are the foundation of modern measurement techniques, enabling the touchless collection of accurate geometric data of objects. These devices are widely used in engineering, manufacturing, entertainment, and the protection of cultural heritage, offering precise digital replicas of physical objects. They allow for reverse engineering, prototyping, and quality control, speeding up production and design processes by quickly gathering large amounts of information with high accuracy, often up to 0.02 mm.
3D scanning transforms objects into digital models, primarily in the STL format, used in quality control, CAD design, and entertainment, such as special effects in movies. Their versatility and mobility allow for easy movement and measurement in different locations, even those hard to reach, making 3D scanners an indispensable tool in many situations. Optical and laser technologies used in scanning have specific applications and limitations but offer solutions even for surfaces difficult to scan, such as transparent or shiny ones.
Our technologist during detail scanning.
Data from 3D scanners are used in the production of films and games, industrial design, orthotic production, prototyping, quality control, reverse engineering, and in medicine for creating personalized implants and prostheses. They are also invaluable in the documentation and conservation of cultural objects, contributing to their protection for future generations.
3D scanners are advanced devices used for digitizing spatial forms of objects, transforming them into accurate digital models. Their operation is based on complex technologies that enable precise capturing of data about the geometry of scanned objects. Below are the main types of 3D scanners and the technologies they are based on.
3D Scanner Calibration Process
These scanners use LED projectors to emit light patterns onto the object being scanned and then track the changes in these patterns caused by the object’s topography using two cameras. They are extremely precise, though they require static working conditions, meaning neither the scanned object nor the measuring head can move during scanning. Despite some limitations in mobility, structured light scanners offer high measurement accuracy, which is crucial in many industrial and research applications.
Laser scanners operate by projecting a laser onto the scanned object and analyzing the deformation of the laser stripes by two cameras. This allows for dynamic generation of measurement data, which facilitates the scanning of moving objects and increases the system’s mobility. Laser scanners, especially handheld ones, are more flexible in use and can operate in difficult conditions, including confined spaces and industrial environments with vibrations.
Contact scanners require physical touch with the object, which can be a limitation in the case of delicate or intricate details. However, they are irreplaceable in precisely measuring dimensions and can be used in applications where the highest accuracy is required.
These scanners emit various types of radiation (light, ultrasound, X-rays) and analyze its reflection or penetration through the object. They can be divided into:
These scanners rely on the detection of natural or illumination light reflected from the scanned object. They do not require emitting their own radiation, making them less invasive. They are relatively cheap to produce and can be used in various applications where less measurement accuracy is sufficient.
The choice of the appropriate type and technology of 3D scanner depends on the specific requirements of the application, such as accuracy, speed, mobility, and environmental conditions. Structured light scanners offer high precision in controlled conditions, while laser scanners provide greater flexibility and mobility in the field. Contact technologies remain indispensable in some engineering applications where maximum precision is required. Meanwhile, non-contact technologies, both active and passive, represent a wide range of tools tailored to various measurement needs, from documenting cultural heritage to comprehensive engineering and design analyses.
One of the key methods used in 3D scanning is the technique based on the Moiré fringe distortion effect. Below, the process is detailed along with the technologies and methods used to obtain accurate digital replicas of objects.
Laser stripe distortions on a car bumper and direct view of the scanned detail
3D scanning starts with digitization, the precise capture of an object’s geometry, and ends with postprocessing, which transforms raw data into useful models. Below, both of these phases are detailed.
Usage Thanks to their versatility and ability to accurately reproduce shapes in three-dimensional space, 3D scanning has found wide application across various industry sectors and fields of life. Below, we detail how 3D scanners are used in different industries and the benefits they bring.
Mesh grid of the replicated detail (on the left) and rainbow analysis – gradient of deviations from the nominal (on the right)
Our technologist during the scanning of the frame of an old Land Rover engine
The high measurement accuracy, mobility, and versatility have made 3D scanners widely used in practically all types of industry around the world. Thanks to the amount of data generated in the 3D scanning process, we can obtain much more information about the quality of the produced product and detect its potential defects where we might not even expect them. Additionally, we gain the ability to recreate and optimize elements for which we do not have documentation or a CAD model, which can significantly impact the time it takes to design new parts.
If you have parts requiring digitization or are interested in professional services related to 3D scanning, please contact our consultant at bartlomiej.szybecki@sgpgroup. We also offer complimentary trial measurements and live demonstrations. You are also invited to our YouTube channel scanning 3D where we perform scanning of bicycle and automotive parts.
Contemporary cars are technologically complex machines in which advanced electronics play a crucial role, underscoring their necessity across a broad spectrum of applications. From engine management systems, through advanced traction control systems, to innovative electronic braking mechanisms – each of these elements utilizes digital technology to enhance safety, efficiency, and driving comfort. Additionally, advanced infotainment systems transform vehicles into mobile communication centers, offering passengers not only entertainment through access to multimedia and the Internet but also providing key navigational and telematic information, making them an integral part of modern mobility.
Furthermore, modern cars use between 1000 to 1400 semiconductor circuits, indicating their complexity and high degree of technological advancement. These circuits are scattered throughout the vehicle, from engine management systems, through safety systems, to comfort and entertainment modules. Their presence emphasizes the evolution of cars from mechanical structures to intelligent machines capable of making autonomous decisions based on data from multiple sensors and systems.
The cost of all the electronic equipment in a new passenger car often exceeds 40% of the vehicle’s value, which not only testifies to the importance of electronics for contemporary automotive but also its impact on production costs, final price for consumers, and on the overall design and functionality of the vehicle. This growing dependency on electronics also highlights the importance of continuous research and development in the field of automotive electronics, to ensure the highest levels of safety, energy efficiency, and user comfort.
Therefore, the development and integration of advanced electronic systems in cars are not just a trend but a necessity that defines the direction of future innovations in the automotive industry. With them, it is possible not only to improve traditional vehicle functions but also to introduce entirely new possibilities, such as autonomous driving, remote vehicle control, or advanced driver assistance systems, opening new perspectives for the future of motoring.
pic 1. Electronic systems in modern cars
The application of X-Ray technology in the quality control of automotive electronics components is a crucial element in maintaining high quality standards in the automotive industry. This advanced diagnostic method, allowing for the non-invasive examination of the internal structure of components, is invaluable for car manufacturers and suppliers in identifying and addressing potential problems early in the production or even design process.
X-Ray technology, also known as radiography in conjunction with computed tomography (CT), allows for detailed visualization of internal material structures without the need for physical disassembly or destruction. This method is particularly useful in the quality control of automotive electronics, including printed circuit boards (PCBs), microconnectors, wiring harnesses, and other key electronic components. It enables the detection of various defects, including:
The technology and inspection methodology based on the use of X-Ray radiation is a key element of modern control processes, especially in the context of electronic component analysis. This advanced inspection method allows for the penetration of objects using X-Ray radiation, which is absorbed to varying degrees by materials of different densities. This enables the creation of contrasted images of the internal structures of the component under examination, allowing for precise analysis of its condition and the identification of potential defects. With technological evolution, modern X-Ray inspection systems utilize both two-dimensional (2D) techniques and three-dimensional computed tomography (3D CT). Computed tomography is particularly valuable as it allows for the creation of detailed three-dimensional reconstructions of components’ internal structures.
pic 2. Example realizations of electronic components
The implementation of X-Ray technology in inspection processes brings several benefits that significantly improve the quality and reliability of manufactured electronic components:
The integration of X-Ray technology in the automotive sector highlights the pursuit of excellence and is a strategic step for manufacturers in offering high-quality and reliable vehicles. It is key to building market position and gaining customer trust, leading to commercial success. Supporting this goal, SGP Quality Lab provides X-Ray inspection service for both individual orders and serial production, enabling effective quality control. Advanced technologies and the experience of SGP Quality Lab ensure accurate defect detection, raising the quality and competitiveness of products.
author: Łukasz Ciechowski – Quality and Development Manager
Can Poland use natural gas in automotive applications?
The 21st century began with the anticipated, or according to some, already observed greenhouse effect and worsening air pollution. The transport sector significantly contributes to these changes, primarily due to the emission of exhaust gases. However, in recent years, this has changed significantly. Thanks to advanced catalysts, efficient engines, start-stop systems, and additives for exhaust treatment such as AdBlue, cars emit significantly fewer exhaust gases and associated pollutants than they did just 10 years ago. Nevertheless, harmful substances for living organisms, especially in the exhaust of older vehicles, still exist in relatively high concentrations:
carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and their derivatives, often interchangeably referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides (oxide, dioxide, trioxide), lead and its compounds, soot, fumes, ashes, metals, other solid substances, heavy organic compounds in liquid form, partially interchangeably referred to as particulate matter PM.
Among substances harmless directly to the health of living organisms or occurring in exhaust gases in small concentrations are those harmful to the environment. They particularly contribute to the occurrence of the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. These mainly include:
Pic. 1. https://powietrze.gios.gov.pl
To counteract the deterioration of air quality, the European Union is adopting increasingly stringent requirements regarding the cleanliness of car exhaust emissions. It’s enough to mention the Euro series standards, among which the latest edition – Euro 6d, introduced from 2021, obliges car manufacturers to ensure that the average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in their model range available in the European Union do not exceed 95 g/km. Slightly different values apply to brands offering smaller, mainly urban cars, and slightly higher values for those selling larger and heavier cars. It is important to note that for vehicles with diesel engines, the permissible emission of nitrogen oxides has been significantly reduced.
The need to comply with regulations in force in the European Union and concerns about air cleanliness, especially in city centers, led the Ministry of Climate and Environment to amend the law on electromobility and alternative fuels. It includes, among other things, the creation of clean transport zones in Poland. The first of these will be launched by mid-2024 in Warsaw and Krakow. Entry to the clean transport zones will be allowed for cars:
As a result, cars with diesel engines, as well as gasoline and LPG cars, will not be allowed to enter.
On the horizon is a group of several million owners of passenger and delivery vehicles equipped with engines that are several years old or older. These vehicles do not meet the requirements of Euro 4 and are increasingly unwelcome in large cities. In light of this, are we condemned to scrapping millions of passenger cars? I don’t think so. The only chance for their continued use is to switch to more environmentally friendly fuel. It can be a 50/50 solution, meaning vehicles with diesel engines are adapted to run on two fuels: diesel and natural gas in a 50%/50% proportion. This solution does not completely eliminate pollutants from exhaust emissions but significantly reduces them, allowing the continued use of existing fleets for several more years.
Pic. 2. www.pixabay.com
What can we do to drive more affordably and ecologically?
Methane as an Alternative to Petroleum Fuels
Internal combustion engines powered by petroleum fuels have dominated the automotive world for nearly 150 years. Current indications suggest that further improving engines for more efficient fuel combustion and cleaner emissions will become increasingly challenging and costly. This complexity involves advanced engine equipment, such as increasing fuel injection pressure (around 15 MPa for gasoline engines and 200 MPa for diesel engines), adjusting air intake, catalytic and filtering systems for exhaust gases, all interconnected with sophisticated computerized control. The detected falsification of emission quality analysis in Volkswagen vehicles in the United States is likely a signal that realistic improvements to internal combustion engines have reached their limits.
Since traditional internal combustion engines are reaching the end of their development, and mass adoption of electric cars is still a few years away, the question arises: what about the transitional period? The answer that comes to mind is natural gas.
Advantages of Natural Gas
Among the advantages of compressed natural gas (CNG), we can mention that:
It is environmentally friendly – significant reduction in pollutants emitted in exhaust gases, including:
Will CNG remain one of the main sources of fuel in the long run? I do not know, as strategic decisions have already been made within the EU. However, from an economic and ecological standpoint, it is certainly worth considering methane gasification for the millions of vehicles currently on our roads. In the second part, I would like to delve into the Polish realities associated with CNG and explore the opinions of Polish drivers on this matter.
Author: Dr. Adam Górniak – long-time manager in the automotive industry, trainer, and consultant
The electric car has become synonymous with modern motoring for many of us. Is this really the case, or are there no other solutions? Published in April 2023, the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) 2023/851 […] regarding the strengthening of CO₂ emission standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles, in practice forces manufacturers to stop producing so-called emission cars by 2035. So, what to do instead? Today, the obvious solution is an electric car. I won’t cover the issues related to such cars in this article, as they are quite well covered in the media. Here I want to focus on another, less well-known solution, which is a hydrogen-powered car.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are two technologies for automotive hydrogen propulsion: hydrogen combustion (ICE) and hydrogen electric cells (FCEV). Direct combustion of hydrogen in an internal combustion engine (on a similar basis to the combustion of natural gas, for example) is a technology that is still in the development stage, although trials of it have been going on for nearly 20 years. Currently, research into the hydrogenation of the internal combustion engine is being carried out by a number of automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, Ford, Deutz and the American Cummins. The latter has succeeded in modifying a 15-liter engine adapted to burn CNG – to hydrogen, without losing its efficiency. The second technology is the use of hydrogen cell energy in vehicles with electric engines.
Advantages of hydrogen cars:
Disadvantages of hydrogen cars:
It is worth noting that when Toyota Mirai is driven calmly, hydrogen consumption is in the range of 0.9 kg per 100 km. Considering the above data, when the price of 1 kg of hydrogen is $16.39, the cost of driving 650 km (one refueling) will be just over $95.
How it works.
Hydrogen cells are used to generate electricity and power an electric motor with it. Electricity is generated by a process we’ve known for more than 200 years, and that is the reverse electrolysis of water.
In the nutshell, it looks like this: you drive up to the refueling station under the dispenser (similar to how it works for LPG refueling) and fill the tank with hydrogen. Then:
The flow of electrons between the electrodes produces electricity, driving an electric motor and charging a battery.
Schematic of the construction of an alkaline fuel cell
1 – hydrogen, 2 – electron flow, 3 – charge (energy receiver), 4 – oxygen, 5 – cathode, 6 – electrolyte, 7 – anode, 8 – water, 9 – hydroxyl ions
To refuel, but where?
Hydrogen cars available on the Polish market are Toyota Mirai II and Hyundai Nexo. Unfortunately, these are expensive cars – they cost about PLN 300,000. If we already decide to buy one, we will face another challenge – where to refuel?
The project of the Polish Hydrogen Strategy in Poland until 2025 assumes a budget of PLN 2 billion for the development of hydrogen infrastructure, with 32 stations to be built in major urban areas. This will allow hydrogen-powered cars to travel seamlessly throughout Poland.
According to the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the distribution of hydrogen refueling stations could look as follows (map). Thirty-four station locations, eight starting city hubs were taken into account, and the basic condition was that the permissible distance between refueling stations could not exceed 200 kilometers.
The first publicly accessible hydrogen refueling station in Poland was opened in September 2023 in Warsaw. It is owned by PAK-PCE, while Orlen will still make four stations available in 2023: in Krakow, Katowice, Poznań and Włocławek. Seven more are planned: in Walbrzych (by 2024), and in Bielsko-Biala, Gorzow Wielkopolski, Krakow, Pila and Warsaw by mid-2025. In addition to Orlen, investors in the station network also want to be:
There are already 163 hydrogen stations operating in Europe, with another 46 under construction.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), which brings together 14 of the largest manufacturers of cars, vans, trucks and buses, estimates that at least 300 hydrogen refueling stations should be built in Europe by 2025, and at least 1,000 by 2030. The proposed distribution of the stations can be found in the maps below.
The direction of change in the development of the automotive industry is clear, so it is worth considering whether to wait and choose a hydrocar instead of an electric.
Regardless of your decision, I wish you that we shift to zero-emission cars as soon as possible and take care of the environment together.
Author: Dr. Adam Górniak – long-time manager in the automotive industry, trainer and consultant
List of sources:
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What’s the difference between traditional and CNC machining?
Professional metalworking continues to use both CNC machine tools and traditional machines that require manual operation. Before making a choice, it is useful to know what capabilities are offered by one or the other technology and which solution will work for you.
The main difference is based on the design of the machine. In traditional machining, the machine used is manually operated and requires the constant presence of a worker. His tasks include manually programming the machine and controlling the machining process.
A CNC machine, on the other hand, is equipped with built-in computer software, and a specially designed program is responsible for its operation. In this way, the machine basically carries out its operations independently and needs to be operated only from the control cockpit.
The elimination of the human factor from the production process allows for the automation of activities and the achievement of repeatable results. During traditional metalworking, the end result mainly depends on the knowledge and skills of the machine operator (e.g., a turner or miller). The person responsible for the operation must also meet specific requirements: in addition to technical knowledge and professional training, good motor coordination is also necessary. At the same time, the operator must efficiently operate the various mechanisms, and at the same time control the results obtained with measuring tools. Taking these factors into account, when it comes to the production of larger batches of products, it is difficult to achieve repeatability of parameters, and making even a small mistake can prove very costly – especially at a later stage of production.
The biggest advantage and thus the advantage of CNC over traditional machines is precisely the achievement of measurement stability and high repeatability. Regardless of the size of the batch, the result obtained is characterized by precision, without affecting the efficiency and speed of the production process itself.
The work program of the CNC machine tool is based on a digital model developed in advance using CAD/CAM software. All information is entered into computer databases, so there is easy access to it all the time. This makes it easy to trace the production process and optimize it by eliminating weak points. What do we gain this way?
In our Quality Lab, we have a CNC machine tool – DN VC 510 – which, with its rotary tables, precision spindle, advanced cooling system and programming capabilities, has all the above advantages.
CNC machining brings a number of benefits, mentioned earlier: process optimization, increased productivity, lower production costs. Streamlining the process makes it possible to realize even larger batches of products in a relatively short time, while maintaining the required final standards. Sometimes, however, implementing CNC technology can prove costly. In cases involving low-complexity components and with a low risk of error, the use of traditional machining can still prove to be a cost-effective solution. Traditional solutions also work well in situations where only one-off products are involved, or for making up the parts needed, especially if electronic documentation is lacking.
If you want to learn more about the use of CNC technology or decided to cooperate with us please contact us!
Key Account Manager
CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) technology’s development turned out to be yet another significant turning point in the history of industry. In the 1950s, computerized numerical control technology was developed, instantly revolutionizing production procedures. Mass production was all but impossible due to the limits of instruments like lathes, grinders, and milling machines that operated manually or semi-automatically. It was a solution that greatly constrained productivity and production scalability, mostly due to the enormous time and labor investment.
By eliminating the need for an operator to operate the machine, production efficiency has been greatly improved and streamlined. Previously, each machine had to be controlled by an employee, who was only able to produce a limited number of components. In addition, one always has to reckon with the fact that some components are rejected at the quality control stage as defective.
The advancing digital revolution has made it possible to program the machine to perform a sequence of the same movements as a human, only much faster. Not only are products being made in much less time, but the number of defective parts is being significantly reduced. Manufacturing precision is crucial when components are part of complex subassemblies.
The potential inherent in CNC has made the technology widely used in virtually every industry. Industries such as automotive or aerospace manufacturing are now hard to imagine without CNC machinery. In the automotive industry, the main use of CNC machines is in the production of such details as gears, camshafts, valves, axles or metal cylinder blocks, but not only that. CNC is also useful when there is a need for short lead times like manufacturing spare parts or prototype car parts.
A perfect example of increasing production efficiency is a case study that describes how Quality Lab helped one of its customers accelerate mass production of hard-to-reach parts.
The possibilities for the use of CNC machines are practically unlimited, so in the automotive industry this technology is used both in the production of drive components and for turning rims or punching body parts. The programmed machines are suitable for machining a variety of materials, including those mostly used in the automotive industry: steel, aluminum or cast iron. Examples of processes using CNC technology include:
Otherwise known as cavity machining. As a result of this process, excess material (surplus) is removed. Precision-controlled, very sharp knives or chisels are used for removal. The use of CNC allows the exact parameters of the design to be maintained.
CNC milling is one of the machining methods and involves machining a stationary workpiece with a milling machine. The milling machine blades, moving in a rotary motion, gradually cut the top layer of the workpiece.
Taking advantage of CNC technology makes it possible to make any holes according to a designated design. This includes, for example, drilling an even hole of a specified diameter and depth, countersinking, i.e. enlarging an existing hole, chamfering a hole for a screw head or threading.
CNC machines are gradually replacing traditional machine tools in modern industry. Longer production times are a result of manual work, but this also increases the chance of manufacturing problems. What do we gain by deciding to use CNC technology?
Unlike machines controlled manually by an operator, automatically controlled machines are capable of making even small parts with great precision.
Another advantage of CNC technology over traditional manufacturing is that it makes many identical parts, which is very hard to do when the human factor is involved.
Automation speeds up production processes. Machines repeat a sequence of programmed movements much faster and more accurately than a human operator. This makes it possible to produce even very complex parts on a mass scale.
Another disadvantage of manual machining, due to the lack of adequate precision, is the waste of material. Automatically controlled machines not only do their job faster, but also more precisely. Consequently, fewer products are rejected as defective during quality control.
In our Quality Lab, we have a CNC machine tool – DN VC 510 – which, with its rotary tables, precision spindle, advanced cooling system and programming capabilities, has all the above advantages.
CNC technology is not a method without drawbacks. It is assumed that its implementation is profitable only when more than 100 identical parts are produced. Another requirement is to create the design in CAD software. However, when we are talking about scaling production and mass production of components, especially in the automotive industry, CNC automation is a solution that is not so much more cost-effective, as it is one that enables further development of the company.
If you want to learn more about the application of CNC technology or have decided to cooperate with us, please contact us! Below you will find contact details of our expert: