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Creaform Measures Up for Cutting-Edge Sailing Yacht Design

Excellence in 3D measurement technology helps American Magic go for the America’s Cup.

Creaform Measures Up for Cutting-Edge Sailing Yacht Design
American Magic made Creaform their official 3D technologies supplier. American Magic/America's Cup

The America’s Cup represents the pinnacle of competition within the world of sailing yachts. From the first America’s Cup regatta around the Isle of Wight in 1851 until today, winning the trophy has been the goal of mariners from across the world. To emerge with the America’s Cup, a team needs expertise, precision, and, of course, plenty of speed.

Out of the water, the same rules apply: To prepare yachts to compete for the America’s Cup, teams must rely on expert partners who can help them precisely and accurately measure to specifications and quickly improve performance.

For the 2021 America’s Cup competition, the American Magic team representing the famed New York Yacht Club turned to Creaform as their official supplier of 3D measurement technology.

Creaform is an industry-leading company in the field of 3D measurement technologies. The Creaform product line helps ensure quality outcomes for clients in diverse manufacturing sectors such as automotive, aerospace, consumer products, and shipbuilding, which includes competitive yachting.

Creaform’s sophisticated and user-friendly line of measurement solutions worked together in perfect harmony on behalf of DEFIANT (the recently-released name of the American Magic yacht).

These powerful tools have been optimized to meet the needs of design, manufacturing, and metrology professionals looking for the most effective and reliable ways to acquire accurate 3D measurements of physical objects, even in difficult environments and with projects featuring complex surfaces. 

The HandySCAN 3D™ is a portable, handheld 3D laser scanner that takes thousands of measurements a second, is accurate to 30 µm, and automatically generates a high-resolution mesh in just seconds.

All of this allows Creaform clients to acquire fast, accurate, robust in-situ manufacturing process data. As-built models can then be 3D printed and rigorously tested to ensure that the system or project in question meets design specifications and will perform as expected.

Creaform Measures Up for Cutting-Edge Sailing Yacht Design
QC Solution - MetraSCAN 3D - HandyPROBE - MaxSHOT 3D, Source: Creaform

To acquire measurements from large parts, American Magic relied on the MetraSCAN 3D, HandyPROBE and MaxSHOT 3D, a complete optical 3D metrology solution.

The MetraSCAN 3D™ is a portable, optical CMM 3D scanner that helps operators better manage processes and respond faster to the industry’s increasing quality control requirements—all without compromising the manufacturing throughput.

Optical metrology provides measurement accuracy that is insensitive to the instabilities of the environment, making the MetraSCAN 3D optical CMM the prime choice for shop-floor quality control metrology.

The HandyPROBE™ Next is a portable CMM that provides great measurement accuracy. Free of any rigid measurement setup, the HandyPROBE outperforms traditional portable CMMs on the shop floor.

The C-Track optical tracker and wireless probe can be moved at any time during the measurement sequence and generate the same high-quality data. This metrology inspection solution helps manufacturing companies eliminate inefficiencies and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Finally, Creaform’s MaxSHOT 3D™ is a game-changer for product development, manufacturing, quality control, and inspection teams that need the highest measurement accuracy and repeatability for large-scale projects. Thanks to its sophisticated user guidance technology and easy-to-use software, the MaxSHOT 3D is ideal for users of all levels—even those without metrology training—providing peace of mind in terms of accuracy and process efficiency.

In the case of the sleek, lightweight, and sturdy carbon-fiber components found on the DEFIANT, this kind of measurement power can mean the difference between victory or defeat. The engineers working on this project frequently employed Creaform equipment not only to develop various systems, but also for quality control to make certain that everything worked as per the exact design specifications.

Creaform Measures Up for Cutting-Edge Sailing Yacht Design
HandySCAN 3D - DEFIANT Aggressive Surface, Source: Creaform

Robyn Lesh used the HandySCAN 3D to design a perfectly fitted fairing to smooth the DEFIANT’s aggressive surfaces.

For example, the American Magic team utilized a revolutionary foiling monohull that can achieve a mind-boggling 50 knots under full sail. However, portions of the surface of this hull were, in the words of design team member Robyn Lesh, “aggressive,” meaning neither smooth nor particularly aerodynamic. That surface needed to be tamed to maximize speed and maneuverability, and the answer was to fit it with a fairing—a part placed on top of this bumpy surface to smooth it out and thereby reduce drag.

When it comes to a highly precise process such as creating a fairing, having a bad (or incomplete) input in the development process often leads to a bad output, and to fix that bad output can take time through trial and error. By using the HandySCAN 3D, however, Lesh and her team obtained the exact shape right away.

“We could have just guessed on the shape to make exterior and spent hours and hours and hours fitting the inside,” says Lesh. “But what we did was to 3D scan the section to create the piece we put on top.”

Another member of the design team, Paul-Louis Defretiere, speaks about the speed and efficiency that 3D scanning brings to the project. “In our time scale, it’s key to go very quickly from the scanning file to a file we can use in the 3D modeling. [Creaform products are] very fast.”

Indeed, what Defretiere is expressing here is the fact that Creaform equipment can scan directly to mesh in an .stl format. There’s no need to process a point cloud. VXelements, Creaform’s software suite that’s fully integrated with the scanner, makes the scan-to-CAD process easier and faster.

Creaform Measures Up for Cutting-Edge Sailing Yacht Design
VXelements Scan-to-CAD, Source: Creaform

Creaform integrated software suite offers powerful and easy scan-to-CAD capabilities for fast data output in your design workflow.

The American Magic project proves that a world-class metrology company like Creaform offers partners abundant benefits in terms of advanced manufacturing efficiency and lightning-fast time-to-market. That adds up to significant savings both in terms of time and money to manufacturers working within hyper-competitive environments demanding extremely tight measurement tolerances.

Not every project involves ensuring world-class performance excellence for sailing yachts competing in the oldest event in international sports. However, every client, regardless of size, scale, or prestige, wants to measure better, faster, and more accurately today than they did yesterday, and they want to do it better tomorrow than they did it today.

Exceptionally accurate, nimble, and quick 3D scanning is clearly a differentiator for any company, anywhere, that wants to keep pushing the envelope in terms of eliminating waste and improving performance. And, let’s face it—that’s every company, everywhere, in the world today.

As measurement experts like those at Creaform demonstrate, that kind of quality is now within reach for all organizations. Whether competing for the America’s Cup or that next contract, regardless of speed to the finish line or speed-to-market, there’s little question that technology is the deciding factor over who wins and who loses.

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