Design Engineering
Showcase

Elusive Parts

Student
Robert Garland
Team
Research and Development
Supervisor
Dr Connor Myant
Role
Design Engineer
Sector
Industrial Manufacturing

Elusive Parts uses state of the art 3D technology to reproduce and manufacture hard to find and no longer available classic car parts.

During the placement I gained knowledge in areas such as 3D scanning, its accompanying software and using AM in an industrial context.

The placement also offered a great chance to gain greater understanding of operating a brand-new start-up. My experiences on this placement have given me great confidence and insight into launching a business.

The company gave me a great opportunity to use my learnings from design engineering to advise on technology implementation and evaluate its effectiveness.

 — Elusive Parts

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Due the situation this year, the placement started with a different dynamic to the one I initially expected. The first three-month period of remote work fed into a great opportunity to go into detail about any areas of knowledge that were missing as at the time our proposed process was lacking a level of depth and detail, and had many unknowns e.g. scanner we would use; how we can turn scan into usable CAD data; 3D printing technology; finishing techniques.

During this period, I gained a lot of new knowledge into additive manufacturing and 3D scanning, I was also able to use my skills to help generate a process outline for making the production of one-off parts via additive manufacturing commercially viable for the classic car market. We aimed to test this process when restrictions began to ease.

 — Elusive Parts
The current process as a breif outline.

In the second period, as restrictions eased, we were able to utilise our findings and test the implementation of our end to end process. We were able to get out to clients to scan and produce parts, purchase a 3D scanner and test software.

Testing the 3D scanner involved a lot of trial and error and learnings. There were lots of discoveries, such as learning to scan both extremely complex geometries, and extremely simple ones and items with dark, reflective and transparent surfaces.

Another large part of the process is putting the part files through a scan to CAD software. I had no prior experience of these software and although they are very similar to existing CAD software there are slight differences. I tested software such as Geomagic Wrap, Quicksurface and Geomagic Essentials in order to determine which would provide us with the most optimal solution.

Visiting clients allowed us to run our process and scan items professionally. During these visits it was important to show the technology off to clients and get them interested in what we are doing.

 — Elusive Parts
Scanning during a visit to a client.

Role and Contributions

Due to the nature of the business being in its early stages, and the size of the business being very small, I had many tasks and roles to undertake, spanning a broad range of areas. It has been my role within the company to assist with bringing this idea into fruition by using my design engineering skills to help create a profitable, functioning service for the classic car market.

My roles/tasks:

R&D – Scanning, Printing, Finishing:

During lockdown, this consisted of my primary task, considering any areas where knowledge was lacking, it was my role to help find that knowledge and apply it to our business plan.

Process Design and Iteration:

This was an ongoing task and my main contribution, this was where testing scanning and software came in, overall, the process developed allows us to take parts from scan to production within the space of a week, a much shorter lead time than currently available in the classic car market.

Front-End Design (Branding/Website Design):

I had a big hand in the creation of a compelling brand and in translating the story that inspired the idea throughout the business. In time I hope that this has left good foundations for the company to expand and grow into a quality, well known mark, with a fantastic culture of people who love classic cars and care deeply about every part passing through the door.

Production of End-Use parts using additive manufacturing

This was where we could put our end to end process into action by producing multiple parts as planned, to be put on cars. A great chance to get hands-on!

Summary

Using new tech to solve an old problem; this is part of the essence of design engineering and was one of the main attractions for me, along with a love of classic cars!

If DE3 students want a hands-on placement where you have a large contributing role in a business with a lot of potential, this is right up your street. I had a great time and I’ve no doubt you will too!

Comments

Awesome job Rob! Impressive stuff to see Elusive Parts come along way in 6 months.

Will Kerr

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