Design to Manufacture of a Custom Gauge holder (Part 1 of 3)

Article by Bryan Sprange, CSWE updated July 1, 2019


The Design Problem

For the past ten years, I have owned and “wrenched” on a Toyota MR2. I originally bought the vehicle to have a fun car which looked good, and use to race at local Autocross events. After a few years racing in these events, I grew bored of the factory installed 2.2L engine making 130hp and wanted to have more power available. The common solution for this problem was to source a turbocharged engine which was a factory option for the MR2.

Toyota MR2

Toyota MR2

Since I love to be different, I decided instead to find a V6 from a Toyota Camry and fit it to the light weight, mid engine chassis of the MR2 resulting in 200hp, but more importantly, predictable, linear power delivery. All of this went really well, but where the problem comes is the fact that the V6 I chose was originally intended for a large vehicle, therefore when installed into a sports car it physically fits, but the high cornering speeds results in the possibility of oil pressure loss mid corner which could severely damage the engine. For the purpose of monitoring oil pressure, I needed to install a gauge.

However I dislike the aesthetics of having a gauge mounted in the “typical” locations such as along the side of the windshield, or covering another gauge. I wanted to place it somewhere that was mostly hidden and didn’t stick out, but was still easily viewable, and secure. I discovered that removing an air vent meant that I could place the gauge inside the duct work and have it stay in place! Problem solved, except I was never a fan of having an open hole in the dashboard where the vent used to be.

The Design to Manufacture Solution

Conveniently, due to working at Javelin, I have access to many advanced tools such as 3D scanners, 3D design software, and 3D printers! Time to put all of these together and come up with an elegant solution for my gauge mounting.

Artec 3D Scanners

Artec 3D Scanners

I started out by scanning the dash and vent area with an Artec Eva 3D scanner. This allows me to get an accurate (0.5mm accuracy) digital copy of the dash vent area which I can use to design a gauge holder.

Raw scan data of the dash area

Using Artec Studio, I trimmed the dashboard scan to only the area I need, and exported it so that I would have a foundation to design from which included the opening, and the gauge bezel.

Trimmed and Textured 3D scan of the vent area and gauge bezel

The process of leveraging Artec has quite a few benefits over other methods of designing. The biggest benefit is only needing to have the object for a few minutes. The scanning process for the dashboard required no prep work, or markers. Simply sit in the vehicle and start scanning. This exceptionally fast process means that there is no need to take manual measurements which can be inaccurate, and often quite difficult.

Trimmed and segmented vent and gauge bezel

Trimmed and segmented vent and gauge bezel

What’s next?

Stay tuned as the next steps of using Geomagic and SOLIDWORKS, along with 3D printing out the final product will be covered in the following two blog posts!

Completed gauge holder design

Completed gauge holder design

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Bryan Sprange, CSWE

Bryan Sprange is a Technical Solutions Expert at Javelin located in Winnipeg, MB., Canada. He has previously worked in the Aerospace industry as a Designer, and a Manufacturing Engineering Planner. Additionally, he has used many different CAD packages ranging from AutoCAD to CATIA. Bryan has a background in Mechanical Engineering Technology, and enjoys using all of the SOLIDWORKS features to their limits to find new and interesting ways to be efficient and accurate when helping customers with their designs.