Engineering Classic Design
Morgan Cars builds on its heritage of classic design with technology and innovation.
Morgan has been producing high quality handcrafted motor vehicles since 1909 and at the current Malvern Hills facility in Worcestershire, UK, since 1913. Today they produce their modern take on a British classic with a variety of traditional and modern vehicles, which embody Morgan’s heritage but embraces modern technologies. The traditional Morgan 4/4 is the longest running production vehicle in the world and has built up iconic status during that time. Today it is manufactured by a series of hand crafted and super-plastically formed aluminum panels, a high-end process reserved for advanced aerospace applications and limited series exotic sports cars.
From its 3-wheeler origins emerges a striking vehicle in the shape of the EV3 Morgan new electric design. The Morgan EV3, looks at the world of zero emissions motoring from an entirely different perspective. What if an all-electric vehicle was bespoke made, hand crafted and exhilarating to drive? The EV3 embraces new technology, delivers responsive driving excitement and continues to celebrate traditional British motor manufacturing. Morgan is showcasing the final pre-production phase car which reveals the restyled body and interior. Weighing less than 500kg, the all-electric 3 Wheeler has a range of 150 miles.
The evolution at Morgan is truly in the engineering of the cars. Graham Chapman, technology manager, has been instrumental deploying new technology to build a greater understanding of the existing processes and developing new methodologies for future builds. Part of that modernization plan was to ‘digitize’ certain key characteristics of their chassis and body structures. “We were looking for a solution that was easy to use but provides the high-end functionality to deliver quality scans and inspection data that can be engineered to meet our exacting standards here at Morgan Cars. Morgan is a tradional methods car builder but that does not mean we reject new technologies to achieve our goals of a “British Classic,” said Graham.
After evaluating processes and considering viable solutions, Verisurf Software was selected as the metrology software application along with the Hexagon Romer articulating scanning arm. The software/hardware combination provides Morgan with a user-friendly digital route from hand built components and assemblies to the CAD engineering team. The engineers can then produce up to date CAD designs of tradional legacy car platforms. This provides great insight into the current build process and gives a planning method for repeatability.
Global standards and approval requirements impose great challenges on the design of new vehicles; the automated measurement solution provides the dimensional controls that is a must for any modern car manufacturer. The scanning and reverse engineering application is also deployed for prototype design and build. Scanning clay scale models from the designers to capture the key dimensions and styling cues from which to start the engineering process. “The automated measurement solution has been a huge asset to the engineering team here at Morgan. It provides us with array of functionality to achieve our goals,” said Tom Morris, CAD/technology engineer. “And with the flexibility of a common software application running across our development and manufacturing teams there is no project we can not achieve,” added Morris.
Model-Based Workflow Maintains Digital Continuity
Whether it is Boeing or a traditional automotive manufacturer like Morgan Cars, a Model-Based Definition (MBD) workflow is key to maintainng data integrity and relevance as part of the overall design and manufacturing process. For Morgan, a key requirement in selecting a measurement solution was that it had to be based on a CAD platform. When using MBD, the CAD model is the nominal to which all parts are measured and inspected against, keeping the all-important digital thread intact—from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting. Everything that defines the part exists in a single digital archive, including how to manufacture and inspect the part.
Morgan has specific process and workflow requirements that must be maintained, all while improving quality, consistency and overall production effeciency of their handcrafted cars. These include three discrete processes all tied back to a CAD model and all requiring in depth measurement, processing and analysis.
- Reverse Engineering
- Tool Making
- Quality Inspection and Reporting
In order to capture classic features from early designs and handcrafted models, for which there are no CAD files, Morgan relies on a straightforward process. Using their portable CMM scan arm and measurement software, they follow three steps to commit the designs to a CAD model:
The portable CMM scan arm is used with the “Measure” software module to measure and capture 3D features and surfaces as point clouds in the software, including planes, cylinders, cones, spheres, lines, splines, circles and slots. As the term point cloud infers the collected data is a group of relative points in space without any connecting structure or geometry between them.
The “Reverse” software module connects the dots of the point cloud data with a watertight mesh and STL models ready for surfacing and suitable for 3D printing. This includes multiple mesh alignment and merging, filtering points, smoothing surfaces and filling holes in the mesh. For some applications, a clean watertight STL mesh file is all that is necessary for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing.
To work with the data as a 3D CAD model the “Reverse” software module converts STL mesh into 3D NURB surfaces and “CAD” software module performs surface modelling, solid modelling with GD&T associativity for model based definition. Solid Models are often required to support modern manufacturing processes such as jig, fixture and tool building, CNC machining and model based inspection.
Tool Building and Guided Assembly
Once the CAD design is complete the “Measure” software is once again utilized to build precision layup tooling and guide assembly of weldments and other critical features. The process is straightforward and completed in three primary steps:
The “Measure” software module guides the user through alignment of the virtual tooling fixture CAD model to the physical tooling fixture being built.
The “Build” software module displays real time distance to the desired position with directional arrows to guide the user to the precise position to set a detail, drill a hole or weld a bracket.
The “Projection” software module programs and drives laser projectors that guide users through the assembly steps. Projected guided assembly data insures precise positioning of parts in the proper assembly order.
Quality Inspection and Reporting
Using MBD the CAD model is the nominal, in essence a virtual ‘golden part,’ from which all parts are compared. Because the measurement software is based on a CAD platform, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) data can be added or edited to further define the part nominal. Once the quality inspection criteria have been set the inspection and reporting process is once again, three steps:
Using the “Measure” software module the physical part to be inspected is aligned with the virtual CAD model. Alignment targets placed on the CAD model guide the inspector through the entire alignment and inspection process.
The “Build” software module is used again but this time to guide the inspector through an automated and repeatable inspection routine. The software displays real-time visual and audible indicators combined with color deviation displays to provide instant part quality feedback.
The “Automate” software module is used to create repeatable automated inspection plans and generate custom reports in industry standard formats with GD&T constraints, color deviation maps and in or out of tolerance indicators for analysis.
For Morgan Cars, selecting the right solution required an objective internal evaluation of what they wanted to accomplish, followed by a list of questions based on wants and needs:
- Is the measurement and inspection software based on a CAD platform, including 3D solid modeling?
- Does it import and export all CAD files and models seamlessly?
- Will it import and allow annotation of GD&T data for complete model based definition (MBD)?
- Is the software an open measurement platform that can connect with any brand or model CMM or scanner?
- Does it have the flexibility and embedded tools to handle the range of applications and inspection data, from manual contact probing to noncontact point clouds?
Morgan Cars is a perfect example of company with a heritage of timeless design, styling and true handmade craftmanship, embracing technology on their terms. The result is beautiful.
The Morgan Motor Company Ltd.