You already know by now that 3D scanning technology has a multitude of uses. But did you know it’s currently being used by NASCAR? That’s right! The racecar conglomerate is now using this tech to streamline vehicles and encourage even faster speeds along the racetrack. And when the cars already barrel down at nearly 200 mph, that’s pretty impressive!
Speed is absolutely everything in a NASCAR race and since the winners are determined often by less than a tenth of a second, going faster is the ultimate imperative. Each stock car must follow specific guidelines, however. This is why NASCAR teamed up with BMI Corporation to further improve aerodynamics while sticking to said guidelines. They ended up using the Rapidform XOR in the process as well.
As a part of the process, they’re using CFD to visualize what changes need to be made in order to get faster speeds. While other teams use wind tunnels, NASCAR is using CFD simulations. To get the vehicle data in the program, however, they’re using the Rapidform XOR, which is a piece of 3D scanning equipment from Konica Minolta. Paired with two CFD programs from Boeing, the combination is a winner. The scanner builds a point cloud of an entire vehicle then Rapidform creates surface information.
They have to go through this 3D scanning process because while there are stringent guidelines on the cars, each one is pretty much handmade, which means there is no standard blueprint to reference. To get the most accuracy, they have to scan in the car. Then they can make changes in the programs to see what changes will make the greatest impact in aerodynamics and speed.
The changes BMI suggest are often so minor, that the layman would think them insignificant. However, even the most subtle changes can create a huge boost in horsepower and mean the difference between coming in first place or second place in a race! And that matters to both NASCAR and NASCAR drivers.
These minor changes couldn’t be identified or created using traditional modeling practices. 3D scanning is allowing for a level of accuracy and detail unlike ever before. This is definitely going to spell changes for the entire racing industry and we wouldn’t be surprised if more racing organizations and car fabricators got their hands on this tech to make minor tweaks and modifications to their vehicles.