Pointfuse Laser Scanning Software Powers Design of Formula One E-Racer Plane - 13/01/2020


Pointfuse is helping engineers design and develop an electric plane that will take part in the Air Race E competition later this year. The world’s first electric air race will see eight international teams, including Canada based Team Outlaw, simultaneously race electric aircraft around a 5km circuit, just 10 meters above the ground and at speeds of up to 450km/h. Using as-built plans created from laser scanned data and processed using Pointfuse, Team Outlaw are planning to replace the traditional motor with a battery powered electric unit before competing in the race which is described as NASCAR in the air.

In order to adapt its existing formula one racing plane, Team Outlaw required detailed structural plans for the 1993 Cassutt. Using a borrowed Faro S70 laser scanner the team captured millions of individual measurements creating a working point cloud file in the region of 3 gigabytes. Once the data had been cleaned, using Autodesk Recap, and the plane detail isolated, engineers then began the task of trying to import the data into the computer-aided engineering software package SolidWorks.    

3D model of the plane

“In order to assess different design options we needed a 3D model of the plane which we could use to explore different locations for equipment and different configurations,” commented Thomas Lockwood, a professional mechanical design engineer and one of the twenty-strong team working on the project.

“Having worked with laser scanning in the past, I was confident it would be a relatively simple and cost effective task to capture the raw measurements. However, what we hadn’t factored for was the process of getting the data, in a usable format, into SolidWorks,” he continued. “I’d used point cloud processing software before but it was hugely expensive so when I came across Pointfuse I was excited to try it out.”

Using Pointfuse, the Team Outlaw designers converted the cleaned data into a series of meshed surfaces. From this Pointfuse produced mesh model, STEP (Standard for Exchange of Product Data) files were exported for use in SolidWorks giving the design team accurate surfaces and breaklines from which the CAD model could be created.

Having designed, built and modified racing airplanes for many years, Air Race E is business as usual for Team Outlaw, who has support from Precizion Services, Energy Efficient Homes, Arkk Engineering and ViScan Inspection Services. With the ongoing support of Pointfuse, the team hopes to be able to offer laser scanning and modelling services to other e-racing teams.

Last updated: 22/01/2020