3D scanners: Improving Shipbuilding Production Workflows

The shipbuilding industry is a critical component of any country’s infrastructure and economy. However, the process of ship construction, particularly the installation of pipes throughout the hull, is challenging and cumbersome. This is due to the segmented construction method adopted in shipbuilding, which often leads to deviations in the hull production process, making it difficult to accurately arrange and install pipes.

Currently, most shipyards in China rely on manual, labor-intensive, and inefficient techniques for measuring and producing closed tubes, leading to material waste and unsafe working conditions. One Chinese shipbuilder decided to explore alternative technologies to address these manufacturing issues.

Assessing the precise challenges in hull construction workflows

The company explored the conventional tools it was using, such as pull ropes, photogrammetry, and a laser tracker. Acquiring tube measurements were time-consuming, inaccurate, and inefficient, especially in confined spaces with dense pipes. These processes required extensive preparation, installation, and dismantling of equipment, often taking a whole day to measure just 12 pipes in a hull.

Furthermore, the design process did not allow for multi-pipe routing and spatial location coordination, leading to potential problems that were not uncovered until the construction stage, which ramped up material waste.

Image of a shipbuilding industry

HandySCAN 3D|BLACK Series: A game-changer in shipbuilding

The company evaluated various 3D measurement technologies and decided to implement the HandySCAN 3D|BLACK Series 3D scanners into its manufacturing process.

The production team used the HandySCAN 3D|BLACK Series to quickly capture 3D measurement data of the flanges at both ends, connect them through common data of the bottom and wall, and save the data in .STL right after scanning.

With 11 blue laser crosses to cover a wider scanning area, an accuracy of 0.025 mm, and capacity of 1,300,000 measurements per second, the shipbuilding development team was able to carry out batch measurements to design multiple pairs of folded pipe flanges in a limited space. The 3D scan data was then imported into the dimensional inspection software, including Creaform’s dimensional inspection software module VXinspect for further analysis and processing.

A staff member using the HandySCAN 3D scanner

Achieving unprecedented production efficiency and cost savings with 3D scanners

Thanks to HandySCAN 3D|BLACK Series, the company managed to reduce 3D measurement times drastically, from a whole day to just 20 minutes, including the preparation time. It also allowed for visual checks of material levels, surface treatments, flange standards, and effective control of pipe routing during the design process. This integrated solution sped up closed tube production and facilitated better coordination of spatial layouts in the hull.

“We are very pleased with the HandySCAN 3D in our processes,” explained the shipbuilder’s operations manager. “Creaform’s integrated solution helped us achieve productivity gains—all while minimizing errors and material lost caused by the traditional 3D measurement solutions.”

Article written by Creaform

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