The Ursaab has a scan in the Museum in Trollhättan
In the first part of our article on future Saab models, Dimitri of Editions Atlas outlined the background surrounding the decision to produce a new series of miniatures, the Saab Cars Museum Collection.
How do you go from a full-scale car to a scale model whilst remaining true to the features of the original car? As far as accuracy is concerned, current technologies mean we now have previously unheard of possibilities within our reach thanks to the 3D scanner, which is what we shall attempt to explain here with the help of Dimitri, whose technical perspective on the matter we greatly appreciate.
(…) Once the models have been chosen, the miniature manufacturer sends their metrologist to the museum in order to scan the first cars. Together with the museum’s director and curator, Peter Bäckström, Editions Atlas has chosen the Ursaab to launch the collection in the Nordic countries. The actual model can now, therefore, be digitised in order to produce a mould for manufacturing the car in 1:43 scale.
At this stage, it takes around a day or so to scan the car. But what does this involve, exactly? The metrologist brings with them some rather high-tech equipment consisting of a hinged arm on a cast iron base with a laser sensor at its tip that makes it possible to virtually trace the lines of the car.
The metrologist places the base alongside the car and begins to trace it meticulously, covering every line and edge and ensuring that not a single detail is overlooked. Since the operator is aware that their work will be used to produce a 1:43 reproduction, they can also eliminate or correct certain imperfections in the original, such as any bumps that might appear on the bodywork, or give greater depth to any details that would appear too minor in the scale model, whilst maintaining the overall coherence of the car. It is important to know that when producing miniatures, it is sometimes necessary to slightly distort the reality to ensure that certain features of the original are still clearly visible on such a small scale.
The operator can eliminate certain details or flaws in the bodywork or indeed give greater depth to any details that would appear too minor in the scale model
The same applies to colours, which must be systematically lightened to prevent them from appearing too dark in relation to the original, given that the surface of the scale model is significantly smaller. If the car is symmetrical, the metrologist can get away with only scanning one side. The computer connected to their scanner also enables them to check their work at any moment.
Once they have traced all of the lines of the car, they must start the process again, focusing this time on the volume aspect in order to fill in this ‘wire’ structure. Of course, with the Ursaab in particular, it is important not to miss any of its contours!
There is also another more automated system whereby a hinged ‘head’ scans everything that is found within a predefined space. This system is not, however, able to scan very dark or black objects, which is why the other system is essential for the Ursaab. Once the car has been fully scanned from the outside, photos of every last detail have to be taken so that the engineers (who will go on to produce the moulds based on this digitisation) can see how the car actually looks and have a reference to the original to refer back to. Furthermore, the chassis and interior are produced based on these photos.
A relatively simple, uncluttered car like the Ursaab requires some 300 photos; a more complex car can require up to 500. Fortunately, we live in the digital age!
Once this initial stage has been finalised, the metrologist will set up and finalise the appropriate files to send to the development team at the factory…
To be continued in the 3rd and final part in a few days’ time! 😉