3D Engineers was set up by Stuart Brown with one primary aim: to prove that modern computer techniques could be utilised to save car restorers, enthusiasts and manufacturers considerable time, money and aggravation whilst improving the quality of the final product. And we do; time and time again.
We do not want to replace traditional craftsmanship, but rather complement and assist it.
Key benefits are:
- Having invented and developed this niche area, we are the market leaders.
- We are constantly refining our techniques, introducing new equipment and innovating. In 2015 we won the International Historic Motoring Award for Specialist of the Year. In 2014 we were shortlisted for the Specialist of the Year award at the International Historic Motoring Awards. In 2011 we were awarded the International Historic Motoring Award for Innovation.
- We have an automobilia archive of pictures, magazines, technical works and rare books that, coupled with the contacts we have cultivated in vehicle museums and marque archives, means that we have the knowledge to undertake work for you and an enviable source of credible information.
- We have arguably more experience than any other firm using computers to re-create out of production vehicles and parts, for example. This proven experience means that you will not be paying for our learning curve.
- Being skilled in a variety of techniques, and therefore being able to pick the most effective method, saves our clients time and money time and again.
- We were the first people ever to recreate a complete out of production vehicle in a 3D programme with our award winning nut and bolt re-creation of the 1924 Bugatti Type 35.
- Our work has been featured in numerous magazines, on blogs and forums and at the Goodwood Revival and Essen. You will find many a mention in articles about us in The Automobile, Octane magazine, Bugatti Trust magazine and Classic and Sportscar, for example.
- The vast majority of our work is conducted “in house” and therefore you do not have to worry about the intellectual property of your vehicle being compromised.
- All work stored off-line to maintain the utmost security for our clients.
- Our geographical location makes us ideally placed to service clients throughout the European Union and across the World. We have successfully completed projects across the USA, South Africa, France and the Netherlands among others. International airports are within easy driving distance.
- We have developed techniques that enable you to comprehensively review your design wherever you are.
What information do you need for the Design Brief?
The Design Brief takes a detailed look at the questions raised by Rudyard Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men: What, Why, When, How, Where and Who? All are key to the fundamental success of the project.
Will you liaise with others on my behalf?
At the outset, we request information on exactly who you are happy for us or would like us to liaise with and to what extent e.g. can they authorise work or amendments on your behalf? It is not generally productive to change these rules as the project develops – and our experience tells us “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
I need to keep this secret. How can I be assured of that?
Whether you are preparing a surprise for a friend or family member or developing a commercial offering for yourself or a client, we are happy to provide a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement for your protection. As a matter of course, however, we do not generally go around discussing existing projects!
Can you really work simply from pictures?
Can I speak to one of your previous clients?
If after reviewing the testimonials on our website you would like to contact a previous client for their recommendation, please ask and we will put you in touch with a suitable person for your proposed project.
What does a virtual body look like?
Take a look at this early design render. A virtual body shows how the real one would look if perfectly created in the workshop. It can be presented in such a way as to make it possible to view it from any angle and close up or from a distance. This gives you the perfect opportunity to identify any areas that you wish to modify and to check that you are completely satisfied with every detail of the shape before any progression to manufacture.
Will you quote for commercial work?
We are happy to quote and undertake both commercial and private work.
What if I change my mind about the shape after manufacture of a buck or provision of the agreed final shape data to a third party or myself ?
In this instance, we are of course happy to help you make the desired changes, but this is a new piece of work and will be agreed, priced and scheduled as such. We appreciate that changes are sometimes necessary for whatever reason, but encourage you to make full use of the virtual checks (which include measurement) so that such circumstances are minimised.
Are you available as a contractor?
We deal direct with clients rather than through agencies and undertake any project on its own merit and our ability to meet its requirements. We work from our office, visiting clients as necessary but in line with our environmental policy. We will not take up residence in order to carry out a piece of work.
Can you 3D print?
Yes, and we find that clients often like to have a physical representation of their work. Did you know that the Aston Martin in the James Bond movie, Skyfall, was 3D printed several times for the scenes in which it suffers harshly at the hands of the baddies? (for example, see http://www.mi6-hq.com/sections/articles/bond_23_db5_3d_printing.php3?s=bond23&id=03373)
Is there anywhere in the world that you wouldn’t go?
Subject to Foreign Office advice to British citizens, no. We would aim to schedule in our visit to fit with any national holidays or similar, personnel availability and transport links to maximise its efficiency. We have successfully completed tasks in Europe and the USA, for example, as well as the length and breadth of Britain. Likewise, we are happy to welcome you here to discuss your project in person if you feel that is best. We have entertained clients from across Europe but our furthest travellers to date visited from South Africa!
Do you help with the SVA? (A U.K. requirement for new vehicle safety)
No. This is your responsibility. For UK owners and drivers, further information can be found on https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-approval/overview and using the search box on http://www.dft.gov.uk/dvla/ . If any vehicle in which we have played a part of the build is to be used on the road or track in any country, we recommend that you contact the driving standards or vehicle authorities in order to establish what you must do to legally be able to use your vehicle wherever you may wish to drive it.
Can you recommend a..…body builder/coachworks/paintshop/aerodynamicist/patent attorney..?
We are happy to put you in touch with those that we have had good service from or received credible recommendations of. What you do next is up to you and at your own expense and liability.
What happens next?
If you like what you see and would like to talk about how we can help you with your project, either contact us via the contact form in this website or use the details there to give us a call or write the good old fashioned way!
What professional qualifications do you have?
We hold Solidworks Professional status (“A Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP) is an individual who has successfully passed our advanced skills examination. Each CSWP has proven their ability to design and analyze parametric parts and moveable assemblies using a variety of complex features in SolidWorks software.” Source: http://www.solidworks.co.uk/sw/support/797_ENU_HTML.htm , the website of the 3D design software company whose products we use.)
In addition, the owner has taken an engineering degree to complement and independently verify his ability.
Other staff is also degree qualified.
We constantly seek to undertake product and task specific training with 1:1 tuition, web based courses and tutorials and telephone support to keep ourselves abreast of developments and similar in the tools of our trade.
What is reverse engineering?
Reverse engineering mainly involves the rebuild of an item from an existing one – for example, where plans or moulds no longer exist to fabricate it otherwise. It may involve 3d scanning of the original object, historical research and the use of photos or hand drawn memos and verbal anecdotes to reproduce the item. It can be a lengthy process but is always worthwhile.
What is a 3D scan?
A 3D scan is a process of recording the exact (to sub mm accuracy in some cases) detail of an object in 3D. This could, for example, be a car, historic artefact or building. The police now use the technique for scenes of crime work too. The main way in which we carry out 3D scans is the use of laser technology. This equipment is fully portable and can run independently of any external power source for up to 7 hours. This means that we are often able to accommodate seemingly out of the way or off the wall requests where access might otherwise be prohibitive to the 3D recording. We also have other scanning equipment at our disposal, depending on the task in hand. An image is recorded in 3D in the form of many millions (often running into billions) of raw data points that we then ‘knit’ together (in a process called ‘post-processing’) to produce the 3D image. With further various processing techniques, this ‘post-processed’ data produced by the scanning can be manipulated for measuring, planning, modifying, aero-dynamic testing and creating identical shapes. If the data is not going to be used immediately, it can be stored in its raw form as an insurance against it ever being required (for example, Old Yeller) or as the stepping stone to a future project. We currently offer a day scanning package at the competitive price of £890 (plus travel and VAT) with the post-processing separately agreed at point of contract. Prices are revised annually in December.
How bespoke is a bespoke design?
It is a one-off. In many cases, we are approached about completed work that others would like to have. We will not pass work that you have paid for on but will liaise with you in case you should wish to pursue the enquiry separately. In cases where a potential client independently seeks to have the same item produced for him or herself, the raw data of the project will be sought afresh. We find historically that clients like to tweak their products anyway, so it makes sense to start with a clean sheet. A final word on this – in the Design Brief, we record permissions on provided data and also commit to handing over the design copyright to the client at the end of each project.
Do you have a newsletter?
Why should I have my car scanned?
It will be recorded forever! You can rebuild it if you ever suffer any damage to it, you can use the data to create a video and you can modify it to your heart’s content in virtual reality before deciding on those all-important killer changes to make it the fastest, most beautiful, factory-perfect one ever. Imagine that!
Do you ever sell your designs?
We are still creating our own bespoke car and will decide when that is finished, but the designs we create for others are theirs alone to decide to sell or not. (See How bespoke is a bespoke design?)
Do you sell data from your scan library?
No. (See How bespoke is a bespoke design?)
Will you come and talk to our club about what you do?
We’d love to – we have enjoyed talking, for example, with AMOC members, IMechE regulars and The Bugatti Club enthusiasts as part of regular and AGM meetings. We are also happy to talk with employees and visitors when on site carrying out work – but we remember that you are paying for our time during these visits so we like to do it as we work!
Which car shows do you go to?
We are planning to go to Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed, the Essen Motorshow and Retromobile amongst others in 2017. In the West Country where we are based there also seems to be a host of motor shows during the summer and we try to get to most. We’re always keen to hear about more though! If you’d like to meet us at one, contact us to try and arrange it.
Isn’t it more expensive to work from a buck created by you?
You do the maths: our bucks are designed and manufactured to give service on more than one occasion and enable you to get the finished product right first time. It may load the project on time up front but it delivers again and again in terms of time and therefore cost savings later in the day.
Why don’t you use thin ply?
It is too thin to withstand the hammering of metal and provide a firm structure in a workshop environment.
Why don’t you use MDF?
It is a health hazard. See http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/faq-mdf.htm .
What are bucks made of?
Generally they are constructed of ply (minimum 12mm) but they can be produced of any wood. The cost varies accordingly.
How does the buck fix together?
We can use laser cut metal brackets and screws to hold them together, or a simple slot mechanism. Options include spirit level inserts, engravings and numbering.
What is the current lead time on your work?
Scanning can usually be completed within 2 weeks, but post-processing of scan data or new projects is now booking well into 2017. The projected finish of your project will be agreed prior to it commencing. To secure your project scheduling, we require a deposit of 50% of the anticipated cost. The Design Brief details all this.
What organisations are you a member of?
We are currently members of The Bugatti Trust and the Society of Automotive Historians and have formerly been in the 96 Club and IMechE.
Have you won any awards for your work?
Yes! In 2011 we were awarded the inaugural International Historic Motoring Award for Innovation in a ceremony in London and presented by Martin Brundle. Also in 2011 we were shortlisted for the Lloyds bank/Telegraph entrepreneurial awards. In 2014 we were shortlisted for the International Historic Motoring Award Specialist of the Year.In 2015 we won it!
Will you tell us about you, Stuart Brown?
Yes: A few years after having his own entirely different business in London, Stuart moved to the country and started 3D Engineers (initially known as Whitney Paine) in 2007. After a couple of years he decided, with guidance from his wife, that it really wasn’t a great help for describing what the business actually did, and hit upon the name 3D Engineers instead. This is one that will stick.
Initially the business set about proving that modern technology could beautifully complement traditional ways of working and Stuart set himself the task, with 100% passion but no existing knowledge, of digitising the iconic Bugatti T35 Grand Prix car. Initially, it would be fair to say, sceptical, The Bugatti Trust in Gotherington UK, sold him a couple of plans to start this task.
Thereby started the quest that became an obsession to not only recreate the whole car in 3D but also to self-teach himself CAD (computer aided design) in order to do it. Stuart’s first forays into software were guided by the experiences of friends and family, with a lot of soul searching on the Internet to back up his investments in scarily priced computer tools, but as his knowledge and demands of the software grew, he diverted into other offerings which gave a whole new world of possibility into what he could achieve. Significant personal sacrifices were also made in the pursuit of hardware and gadgetry to produce the best possible results in his work. Along the way he took professional qualifications in the software and studied for a degree in Mechanical Engineering to expand and accredit his knowledge, also beginning a business link supporting engineering within the University.
The Bugatti project was completed over several years of hard slog and Stuart, with true entrepreneurial confidence and spirit, began to talk about his achievements and the application of what he had done to the classic car world. Soon he achieved his first commission and the ball started to roll.
Starting with more reverse engineering projects, including producing 3D plans from 2D plans, correcting other CAD designers work and creating 3D plans from objects, he then met a man looking to build his own bespoke car, with just a few ideas about how it should and shouldn’t look to go on. Enjoying a challenge, Stuart took on the project and a few months later, the Mitchell Special Mk II was born (see more on the portfolio page).
From that day, 3D Engineers has gone from strength to strength with projects around the world, from the UK to close-by France and further afield to the USA, New Zealand and South Africa, either travelling to see clients or welcoming them to his UK base. These days projects still include the original reverse engineering, plus significant use of 3D scanning to aid particularly in restoration and preservation work and meaty amounts of bespoke design where he will produce a (car) body to your liking. Although the speciality remains car-focussed, work has also included jewellery and building projects, including staircases and detailed fretwork.
Stuart can count amongst his clients some of the more famous names and vehicles in the car world, but equally importantly, many an enthusiast or private collector and small company looking to embrace the opportunity that 3D Engineers offers with its work. In fact this is one of the factors that led him to winning the Innovation Award at the inaugural International Historic Motoring Awards in 2011.
Stuart has always had a passion for cars, and has definitely had more of them than some people have had the proverbial number of hot dinners, but this knowledge and experience, together with a vast database of information and contacts worldwide, gives him a leading edge and intrinsic knowledge of shape and form that helps him to style his projects perfectly.
And when he’s not working on the latest set of projects, you’ll probably find him with his family at a car show or event on a busman’s holiday!
If you’d like to discuss your ideas and dreams, simply call him – 3D Engineers loves to talk and loves even more putting words into action.
For all car creation solutions, 3D Engineers offers bespoke car design, reverse engineering and a comprehensive 3D scanning service. See website for further details, examples of the work and service information.