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Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: California State University, Fullerton's Formula SAE Team's Race Car Engine 3D Scanning

Posted by Mike Knicker on Sep 9, 2016 1:20:03 PM


California State University, Fullerton's Formula SAE chapter is back from their brief break to build another beast of a race car. Using Q-PLUS Labs' 3D scanning expertise to aid them, the team enters into their 3rd year in the challenging Formula SAE competition which encompasses designing, building, and competing a mini-formula style race car that will be evaluated for its potential as a production item.


1_DSC_3074.jpgThis year, California State University, Fullerton's Formula SAE is using a Yamaha FZ-07 motorcycle engine which has increased displacement for their new race car design. The new design for the chassis will include a space frame as well as a carbon fiber driver cell. The space frame is created by welding steel tubes together and attaching them to the cockpit and the engine housing, as well as the drive train. Unlike the team's last design which was a stressed engine, this design will be mounted to the inside of the space frame. Weighing 20 to 30 pounds less than the team's original engine, this choice also offers more torque and faster acceleration without creating a heavier car which would give the team an edge against their competition.

Our Process

Because the final race car's design needs to be both fast and safe and relies on the integrity of the engine's measurements, Cal State Fullerton's SAE sought the expertise of Q-PLUS Labs' dimensional measurement engineers. Using the Steinbichler Comet 5, Q-PLUS Labs was able to provide CSUF's SAE team with accurate measurements of the engine to provide the structure for the race car's design. Using these points from the scan data, the team can proceed to confidently to create a CAD model of the car designed with both the driver's safety and structural integrity in mind. Follow CSUF's Formula SAE's journey and results here in our future blog post.

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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, Steinbichler, Cal State Fullerton, Baja SAE

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: Extreme Components, LP's Surface Finish Analysis of DAT Mold Interlocks

Posted by Mike Knicker on Aug 12, 2016 12:47:02 PM


Extreme Components, LP is known for designing and creating cost-saving, effective alignment/positioning devices for the Injection Mold Industry that are durable, reliable, and high precision. Their molding alignment locks are manufactured using dynamic alignment technology or DAT, which is a revolutionary method for self-aligning locks that involves minimal friction and wear, even at high speeds. Using Q-PLUS Labs’ nano measurement expertise, Extreme Components, LP wanted to use the surface finish analysis results to find out precisely how well their DAT locks held up against the wear of daily use versus the traditional friction-fit locks.


Extreme Components, LP's unique product was designed using DAT which consists of rollers constrained in a cage, and moving in a prescribed manner due to the kinematic relationship between the rollers. The tongue is moved relative to the housing without direct mechanical contact between the tongue and the housing. Because there is very minimal friction between parts, the process decreases the amount of wear that would normally be experienced using methods such as those used with traditional friction-fit locks.

Our Process

Color_Map.jpgTo analyze the exact amount of wear, Q-PLUS Labs performed a surface roughness analysis to confirm the wear on the unused surface of a traditional friction-fit lock versus the wear experienced by Extreme Components LP’s DAT locks after multiple uses. This was accomplished using white light profilometry from CyberTechnologies’ CT 300. The subsequent data from the unused surface of a friction-fit lock revealed an average roughness of 10.6 micro inches. There was major deviation from the level surface while the actual tongue contact surface was too rough to measure using conventional high precision instruments due to galling, or wear caused by adhesion between sliding surfaces, which could be observed from visual inspection.

Color_Map_EC.jpgIn comparison to the friction-fit lock, Extreme Components’ DAT lock that had been used by a multinational medical device manufacturer for 4 years of near continuous service, cycling every seven seconds with a 2,300 pound load yielding more than 10 million cycles, was measured to have a surface roughness of only 5.7 micro inches. The data of the surface map displays better uniformity than the friction-fit lock, and visual inspection shows the DAT lock’s mirror-like surface and no galling.

Usually, this measurement was done using far less accurate and time consuming means. However, with the rapid and accurate surface finish analysis data Q-PLUS Lab’s provided, Extreme Components was not only able to effectively compare their DAT locks to traditional friction-fit locks, but visually show customers the value of how their product holds up in real use scenarios.

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Topics: manufacturing, 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, nano measurement,, CT300, nano

Nano measurements: Contact-based vs optical-based, which should you choose?

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jul 13, 2016 2:36:31 PM


With advances in the manufacturing of smaller and smaller components, there is a need for measurements at that scale to ensure that best accuracy is maintained. If you require measurement at the nano scale, or one billionth of a meter, then choosing the right technology will be high on your priority list. You want to make the most informed decision when choosing the equipment for measurements that are this important.

In general, there are two different types of nano-measurement technology, contact-based and optical-based. Here is a bit about each type of nano-measurement technology to help you determine which measurement option is the best fit for your application:

How do contact-based nano-measurements work?

1_2D_Image2.jpgAs the name suggests, this type of nano measurement solution will come in contact with the piece to be measured in order to determine its dimensions. The two main types of equipment capable of these measurements are stylus profilometers and the atomic force microscope. Both have been in use for some time and use extremely sensitive styluses to collect the measurement data required.

This type of nano-measurement is ideal if you need to measure a surface with a high aspect ratio since this can be a difficult to accomplish with optical-based solutions. These solutions have been around for a while so they are a tried and true way of measuring, and these methods are practically good at delivering 2-D data.

How do optical-based nano-measurements work?

1_3D_Image2.jpgOptical-based nano-measurement technologies are quickly becoming the go-to devices for measurements at the nano level. Since these techniques do not touch the surface of the piece to be measured, there is no risk that small or delicate parts will be damaged or moved during measurement. As an added feature, optical measurements are also done more quickly than traditional contact-based measurements, and typically have an innate ability to obtain 3D measurements in addition to 2D data.

There are several methods used in optical-based nano-measurement; among them are triangulation, white light interferometry, confocal microscopes and chromatic confocal sensors. The commonality of these methods is the use of light that is emitted and then re-captured in a manner that will allow the equipment to make the extremely accurate measurements necessary to measure at the nano level.

Which type of nano-measurement is right for you?

Each of the methods listed above has benefits and drawbacks that you will need to weigh in your decision; and the decision greatly depends on what you will be measuring. As stated, contact-based measurements can make very high resolution measurements because they come in contact with the surface, but this also risks damage for delicate parts and can be much more expensive to operate.

By contrast, optical-based measurements do not risk damage to parts as only light comes in contact with the pieces, and are capable of measuring much more quickly that the contact-based methods. The drawback can be some difficulty with surfaces with high aspect ratios; such as surfaces with many features such as grooves, sharp edges, holes, steps, steep slopes or channels. So it is important to know what you will be measuring when you are choosing between the nano-measurement equipment available.

This is where the dedicated team at Q-PLUS Labs can help. Our experts have taken the time to know all the aspects of each piece of equipment best suited for each customer's application in order to recommend the best fit measurement equipment. Whether you need measurement services or help finding the right equipment for in-house measurements, our team can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, 3D Scanning, nano measurement,, nanoscale,, dimensional measurement services, noncontact inspection, measurement equipment, nanometer

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: California State University, Fullerton Baja SAE Team's Cutting Brake 3D Scanning

Posted by Mike Knicker on Apr 6, 2016 9:03:20 AM


California State University, Fullerton’s Titan Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team is back at it again preparing for their 2016 competition season and sought Q-PLUS Labs' measurement expertise to 3D scan a crucial component of their new vehicle, dubbed the Hyperion, the second iteration of the team’s 2015 race car, the Cronos which Q-PLUS Labs aided with 3D scanning last year. Their 2015 design of the Cronos not only competed, but beat out half the competition! This year, the team is dialing in on a design that works best for the most random and unpredictable off-road terrain which the race has been known to throw at competitors.


Front_View.pngA little background on the rigorous Baja SAE race—it originated in 1976 at the University of South Carolina as a comprehensive engineering competition with the objective for students to function as a team and not only design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle, but also raise financial support while balancing the demands of their course work. In order to compete as formidable opponent at the 2016 Baja SAE race, the final single-seat, all-terrain sporting vehicle is comprised of parts machined by CSUF’s Baja team.

This year, the team decided to integrate a cutting brake into the vehicle’s design. Because the race course terrain consists of extreme conditions, installing a cutting brake would help mitigate the unpredictable conditions and make the vehicle more maneuverable. It accomplishes this by working in line with the rear brake system to isolate specific wheels, giving the driver greater control of the car and facilitating with sharp terms.

Our Process

The cutting brake’s measurements are extremely vital to the vehiOurProcess.jpgcle’s ability to successfully navigate the race due to the challenging track. CSUF’s Baja team requested Q-PLUS Labs to 3D scan the cutting brake that provided the team with measurement data from which they can derive the best fit area of the car to mount the brake. Using the Steinbichler Comet 5, Q-PLUS Labs was able to give the team precise measurement data for the cutting brake, allowing a new model to be water jetted accurately while reducing the amount of time it would have taken the team to acquire the measurements manually, and helping them quickly prepare for their 2016 race in Gorman, California May 19th-22nd.

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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, Steinbichler, Cal State Fullerton, Baja SAE

Q-PLUS Labs 3D Scans & Renders Santa Statue

Posted by Mike Knicker on Dec 22, 2015 9:25:44 AM


Always looking for an interesting way to convey our holiday greeting, Q-PLUS Labs took on a unique approach to sharing holiday cheer with customers with a 3D scan of a Santa statue.

Our Process

To scan Santa, our engineers used the FARO Edge ScanArm HD which rapidly delivers point clouds with extreme resolution and high accuracy, even across different textures, including highly reflective surfaces. The scan data was then sent to Geomagic Design X, a poweful point cloud processing software for post processing, where it was quickly formed into a mesh and exported as a standard STL file.

SantaClaus_RenderPlay.jpgThe 3D file produced was a one layer, watertight mesh which was then separated into color regions. These color regions allow the mesh to be easily cut into multiple layers which were then imported into SpaceClaim to assign each individual layer its own color in context of the original Santa statue.

To render a 3D photorealistic version of the file, these colored layers into Keyshot, a program that has the ability to process and render the file in actual time. This software creates incredible visuals with 3D data and was able to produce the animations of the final rendered Santa.


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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, Faro, holidays, keyshot, spaceclaim

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: California State University, Fullerton Baja SAE Team's Brake Caliper 3D Scanning

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 11, 2015 11:30:00 AM


California State University, Fullerton’s Titan Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team sought Q-PLUS Labs’ measurement expertise to assist in jump starting the team’s 2015 season since their 2008 competition hiatus. Originating in 1976 at the University of South Carolina, the objective of this comprehensive engineering competition is for students to function as a team to not only design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle, but also raise financial support while balancing the demands of their course work. To produce a formidable competitor at the 2015 Baja SAE race, the final single-seat, all-terrain sporting vehicle comprised of parts machined by CSUF’s Baja team from scrap, over the course of 9 months.


2car.jpgBefore building their vehicle, CSUF's Baja team designed a virtual rendering of it in Solidworks, a 3D CAD design software. Because each piece of the car was hand machined, the team needed accurate measurements of the car’s calipers before proceeding with the build. Calipers are essential to the vehicle’s ability to stop and are one of the critical components of a car’s breaks. The challenging track consisted of rough terrain, making the measurements extremely vital to vehicle’s ability to successfully navigate the race.

Our Process

Due to its complex geometry, the calipers posed a challenge for the team to model quickly. Using Q-PLUS Labs’ 3D scanning services, the team was able to “test fit” the calipers on the solid model before it was even made. Using the FARO Edge calipers_small.jpgScanArm HD, a 3D laser scanner which rapidly collects high accuracy point cloud data, Q-PLUS Labs was able to provide the team the measurement data they needed despite the reflective surface of the calipers. The scanning information that Q-PLUS Labs provided the team reduced the amount of time it would have taken them to machine the vehicle’s parts to fit the calipers.

Defying the odds of the Baja SAE race where cars were breaking down along the grueling track, CSUF’s Titan Baja team finished the race with 11 laps. Forging ahead and looking to be in the top 20 finishing teams, they are not wasting any time preparing for 2016’s race in Gorman, California on May 19th-22nd.

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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, Faro, ScanArm HD, Cal State Fullerton

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: 3D Scanning of University of California, San Diego Statues

Posted by Mike Knicker on Sep 15, 2015 1:00:00 PM


The University of California, San Diego requested Q-PLUS Labs for a unique onsite 3D scanning project of the Something Pacific installation for the Stuart Collection. This installation by Nam June Paik consists of two parts, an indoor exhibit found in the lobby of the university's Media Center as well as 3 statues of tiny Buddhas staring at dead TV sets embedded throughout the landscape UCSD's Communications/Media Center building. The resulting scans will be used to reproduce the Buddha statues in detail should they be damaged or stolen.


UCSD Statue ScanNam June Paik designed this installation which is composed of televisions paired with Buddhas watching them to depict extended contemplation. As an integral aspect of UCSD's landscape, the university sought to preserve the statues via 3D scan data in case the statues would need to be recreated in detail. For this particular application, Q-PLUS Labs' engineers used white light and laser scanning technology, specifically the Steinbichler COMET L3D and the Faro Edge ScanArm HD.

Our Process

UCSD Statue Scan

Even with high tech 3D scanning equipment, obtaining accurate and detailed scans in an outdoor and uncontrolled environment was a meticulous process. Because the statues were unmovable and anchored into the ground, the engineers established a controlled scan environment by carefully tenting each statue to block excessive lighting.

Being in an outdoor environment, the statues required thorough and careful cleaning as well as a trench dug around each statue to render more of the statues' surface area for greater scan detail. The freeform and unusual geometry of each statue also provided a challenge to obtain scan details. However, Q-PLUS Labs' engineers completed the job and the scan data produced will help to preserve this interesting exhibit for years to come.

Something Pacific       1986 Nam June Paik       Stuart Collection       UC San Diego       Photo by: Philipp Scholz Rittermann
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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, Faro, UC San Diego, Steinbichler, Comet L3D, ScanArm HD

More than Meets the Eye: 3 Advancements in Nano Measurement that Improved the Quality of Manufacturing

Posted by Mike Knicker on Aug 26, 2015 2:21:44 PM

More than Meets the Eye: 3 Advancements in Nano Measurement that Improved the Quality of Manufacturing

Nanotechnology has matured from science fiction into a burgeoning industry and, now, to a well-accepted component of modern manufacturing. Many people don't realize just how much nanotechnology is involved, not just for high-tech electronics and aerospace, but also for everyday applications such as adhesives, printing, and automobiles. 

As measurement capabilities have expanded from the micro to the nano scale, there has been a corresponding improvement in the quality of manufacturing across many types of industries.

3 Advancements in Nano Measurement

With the ability to provide faster, accurate results necessary to monitor quality for products requiring micro manufacturing, developments in nano measurement technologies have introduced new possibilities for manufacturers. Some of the ways that nano measurement has improved the quality of manufacturing include:

  1. Electronics - Nano measurement is commonly used for applications such as checking the size, shape, and position of solder bumps on printed circuits and determining the thickness ratios of thin films on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

  2. Solar cells - Analysis and quality control of solar cell manufacturing have also been improved by developments in nano measurement. Nanocrystal solar cells have a very thin coating based on silicon or a similar substrate that has a uniform coating on the surface of the cell. This coating can only be analyzed using nano measurement to confirm uniform thickness.

  3. Medical diagnostics - Advances in nano measurement are helping researchers develop medical diagnostic tools that are more sensitive and produce consistently reliable results. There are several potential applications for nano measurement in the medical field, including targeted therapy of cardiac diseases, quantitative detection devices for early diagnosis of cancer, and the development of implantable devices for in vivo diagnoses.

Because the field of nano technology is developing at an exponential level, selecting the right nano measurement device (or combination of devices) for a particular surface profilometrydimensional inspection, or reverse engineering application requires careful consideration to ensure that you receive relevant results in the necessary time frame and within your budget. The experts at Q-PLUS Labs will work closely with you to determine the best solution for you application. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,

What Types of Data Can Be Obtained from Nano Measurement?

Posted by Mike Knicker on Aug 11, 2015 2:01:00 PM

What Types of Data Can Be Obtained from Nano Measurement

Dimensional inspection is employed to measure a broad range of sample types in almost every industry imaginable. This same versatility is required at the nano scale, which is why ongoing effort is put into the development of new measurement technologies.

The combination of stylus profilometers, chromatic confocal technology, interferometry, and other types of sensors enables the collection of multiple types of data at the nano level. The ability to use various sensor types, sometimes even for the same sample, makes measuring objects with varying characteristics possible. For example, although using a stylus profilometer to measure an object with a soft surface may not be possible, an optical sensor can solve the problem.

Types of Nano Measurements

Some of the types of measurements that can be obtained at the nano scale include:

  • Form -  Micro gears and other small parts require precision shapes and contours. Complex 2D and 3D geometry can be captured at the nano scale with sensors that capture and process point cloud data.

  • Roughness - Surface roughness is one of the most common applications for nano measurement. In this case, the type of measurement technology used will depend on the height difference between the highest and lowest points on the surface, whether the material is hard or soft, and the type of results required for the application in 2D or 3D.

  • Flatness - The flatness of a pane of glass or man-made sapphire can be measured, regardless of the reflectivity of the surface. When chromatic confocal technology is employed, even the flatness of the opposite side of the glass can also be measured through the translucent material.

  • Coplanarity - For a Ball Grid Array (BGA), the top of each solder ball needs to be coplanar with all the others so the mating component seats properly and all connections are made. The geometry of these parts can be measured and verified at the nano scale.

  • Roundness - Micro gears and other small parts require precision shapes and contours. The geometry of these parts can be measured and verified at the nano scale.

  • Thickness - The thickness of wafers, plastic films, and epoxy films are examples of applications for which nano measurement is often employed. With a chromatic confocal sensor, the thickness of translucent objects, like the glass face of a smartphone, can be determined.

These are not the only types of measurements that can be obtained at the nano scale. The use of multiple types of sensors and the ongoing development of new nano measurement technology are continually expanding the possibilities for manufacturers and researchers.

If you require any of these types of nano measurements, or if you're not sure what approach is needed, the experts at Q-PLUS Labs are here to help. We'll work closely with you through every step of the process to ensure that you get the best results for your application. Contact us anytime if you have questions, or when you're ready to get started.

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Topics: dimensional inspection, nano measurement,, nano scanning,, optical sensor, nanoscale,, surface finish analysis,

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: 3D Scanning of USS Freedom

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jul 28, 2015 2:42:00 PM

Q-PLUS Labs Case Study: USS Freedom

Lockheed Martin required Q-PLUS Labs' measurement expertise to generate quick results via 3D scan data of the rear doors of the USS Freedom in San Diego, California. As a new breed of warship, the littoral combat ship (LCS) was designed to be a fast and formidable surface combatant with warfighting capabilities such as mine clearing, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.


USS FreedomAt 378 feet in length and composed of a high speed, semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure, the USS Freedom is a unique ship. It is the first-in-class littoral combat ship of its kind and is able to operate in a variety of environments and assignments from dangerous shallow water and near shore missions to minesweeping and humanitarian relief.

Our Process

USS Freedom Scanning

Q-PLUS Labs went onsite with portable measurement equipment, using a range scanner to collect massive amounts of data in a highly time sensitive assignment, then post process it into the needed readings and analyses. Collecting data with the Faro Photon range scanner, which is capable of measuring roughly the length of a football field in every direction, Q-PLUS Labs' engineers were able to overcome the scanning obstacles involved with measuring onboard a currently active warship. One of the challenges in the scanning process was collecting scan data of exterior doors which involved attaching a harness an engineer as he maneuvered the equipment overboard.

engineIn order to quickly move the USS Freedom out of port, Q-PLUS Labs was required to acquire the data rapidly and accurately, delivering results which would be used to improve the design of the ship's rear doors. These doors are located near waterline level to allow safe launch and recovery of watercrafts while the ship is in motion. The accuracy of the doors' measurements would allow for improved design to resolve the problems being caused by the shape and position of the currently installed doors.  

Case Study Update (11/19/15): Q-PLUS Labs is completing a very special and unique 3D scanning project on the USS Freedom's sister ship, the USS Independence! Look for the upcoming case study.

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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, Faro, Photon Scanner,, Ship, USS Freedom