Putting "Pedal to The Metal" with ZW3D Software
"With ZW3D, everything is integrated. There are no file translation problems."
Some of the world's most interesting and fun-to-drive cars reached a pinnacle of perfection many years ago in the heyday of throaty engines and chrome. Though rarely seen now on the roads of America, vintage cars such as the 1965 Mustang and 1973 Cadillac Eldorado nevertheless remain an obsession for many, and a guaranteed head-turner wherever they go. While these cars can be restored and improved with aftermarket parts and countless hours of labor, the process can be incredibly expensive.
PML, a southern California CAD/CAM engineering services company, is betting that it can use a complete design-through-manufacturing solution from ZWSOFT to help car lovers rebuild the cars of their dreams—while saving time and money.
21st Century Technology for Vintage Cars
A problem with restoring vintage cars is that they usually require a new engine. But who wants to see a 21st century engine under the hood of a 1965 Mustang? To make new engines look like old classics, PML has developed valve and transmission covers that, for instance, make a new Chevy engine look more like a classic Fifties Cadillac powerplant. Vibrant blue and purple aluminum covers with a machined-in Cadillac logotype are eye-popping reminders that opening the hood was once part of the pleasure of owning a car.
“We use ZW3D Overdrive™ CAD/CAM software to integrate the whole design-through-manufacturing process,” said David Tolin, president of PML. “We take a valve cover, reverse engineer it, cast it and then machine whatever the customer wants on that valve cover. It is all done in ZW3D software, which has made the entire process much easier and faster.”
The investment for valve covers typically runs between $10,000 and $15,000 for PML, so obviously the company focuses on those parts that have broadest demand. Tolin notes, however, that many cars are now being restored that one would never regard as popular, let alone classics. There has been interest in AMC Javelins lately, in addition to the Mustangs, Corvettes and Cadillacs.
To further lower the cost of restoration, the company is exploring relationships with engine builders who want to have their names on the valve or transmission covers. To this end, PML is beginning to build in ZW3D® a product library of standard aftermarket components. The parts suppliers can have their designs machined by PML using CAD files imported from their systems into ZW3D. PML is able to use ZW3D Overdrive upfront to engineer the critical elements of a single part while relying on the parts supplier to provide the surface-millable aesthetic component in a data file that can easily be made CAM-ready in ZW3D. The parts supplier receives a functional replacement part with a unique look that provides their brand identity.
The company is also developing a distinct parts library to offer new options to car enthusiasts who can learn to use a CAD package such as ZW3D, but who lack the resources to machine their own parts. These car buffs could embellish and personalize the computer model of the PML base component, then send the revised file to PML for casting and machining of aluminum or magnesium.
The Right Tool for The Job
Since PML has always done a lot of modeling based on reverse engineering, a hybrid solids/surfaces modeler proved to be the right tool. For reverse engineering, creating accurate surfaces efficiently from point-cloud measurements is critical. Traditional solids-based parametric software had problems generating solids from surfaces.
“The reason we chose ZW3D Overdrive is we needed more power,” Tolin said. “CATIA® and UGS® were the only true 3D alternatives, and they’re very expensive. Pro/E® was never a consideration since it’s not very good at bringing data in from digitizers and being able to work with it. CADKEY® was more of a 3D package than AutoCAD®, but still couldn’t turn surfaces into solids. The advantage that ZW3D brought to the table was that ZW3D is a hybrid solids/surfaces modeler, and not limited to some of the parametric features of the solids-based modelers.”
Tolin believes the software has other important advantages. “The level of integration in ZW3D is crucial,” he said. “We don’t have to exit the software to output a file, and then bring it back in. A lot of people using other CAD software have to be constantly inputting and outputting files if they want to both design and manufacture on a PC. With ZW3D, everything is integrated. There are no file translation problems.”
By integrating through ZW3D, PML has an advantage over their competitors. “ZW3D integrates the whole process very well,” Tolin said. “While using ZW3D, PML is able to deliver parts more quickly than the competition. ZW3D Overdrive CAD/CAM software is a great, competitively priced product. I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to work with reliable, smart and easy-to-use software like ZW3D.”
Note: VX CAD/CAM software and technology has been acquired by ZWCAD Software Co., Ltd. VX CAD/CAM has been rebranded as ZW3D. All the testimonials of ZW3D refer to its predecessor.