Inside Brainiac: Resurfacing and Modeling

Following our last update where we discussed the 3D scanning process for reading in the existing dashboard surfaces and trim pieces into the computer, today we’re going to talk about the next steps; Resurfacing the scans and creating 3D models of the new replacement trim pieces. These pieces are for the larger 10.1″ Brainiac display.  These two processes can be performed in parallel where one group is focused on taking the original scans and getting them resurfaced into clean crisp lines so that we have accurate dimensions in 3D space to work with.

As an example, here’s one surface scan that shows the entire center console before we pulled each piece off and scanned them individually.  That raw data needs to be translated into clean lines to be used as the base of our design.

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The second group of designers are then focused on the initial design concepts for the trim pieces based on general dimensions.  This is the more artistic part of the process where we start thinking about how we want the screen to be positioned, how the pieces should all come together, and how the trim should be designed so that it matches the existing look and feel of the vehicle’s interior.

The 2005-2007 Subaru Impreza is a great first vehicle to work with as it has lots of space to mount a 10.1″ display and gave us a nice canvas to pull together some drawings of a potential look and feel.

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After we had general agreement on the design and where everything needed to be cliped or fastened to the dash, we were able to move on to designing the pieces as a 3D model.  This gives us the ability to spin the model around to see how it looks under different lighting conditions and provides more of a general physical feel of the design.

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To complete the model it requires final accurate placement of factory mounting clips and also the button panel that will go along with the touch screen.  These locations depend on the data from the original resurfaced 3D model.  We’ll have updates on those areas a bit later.  The next step for the trim pieces is printing them on a 3D printer so that we can move it out of the virtual world and into the physical world were we can feel it in real life.

The 3D printing phase is really important where we can iterate on the model to dial it in for fit and finish and also how it “feels” as a driver.  Things like the viewing angle of the screen, position of buttons, clearances, depth of the screen from the trim face and overall appearance in the dashboard.

We’ll have more updates on the 3D printing phase in some follow-up blog articles soon!

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